City Council Meeting Highlights for July 10, 2014

In one of the longest meetings of the Coupland City Council so far, a variety of issues were covered including a dangerous dog, a revision of the budget, the Prinz Estates, a potential dam failure, mowing of city right-of-way, and the November election.

Present for this meeting were Mayor Jack Piper and the following Aldermen: Barbara Piper, Susan Garry, and Karen Marosko. Three citizens and a special presenter attended the meeting.

Mayor Piper opened the meeting by explaining that there was no quorum for the June 12 meeting because the quorum count is based on the number of Aldermen present and that the Mayor does not count for the purpose of determining a quorum. He said that the action items on the June 12 agenda that required approval of the Council must be reconsidered in this meeting. These items were approval of the minutes from the May 8 meeting and a budget revision.

The Mayor reported that the City has $36,310 in the bank as of June 30. He also summarized a report on the status of revenue and expenses at this point in the fiscal year. Total revenue so far is $47,585. Expenses totaled $13,913.

Scott Murrah, from BSP Engineers, Inc. in Temple signed up to address the City Council. He spoke about the possibility of the City acquiring a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through Williamson County, how that could be used to address urgent needs in Coupland, and how they could help Coupland apply for a CDBG grant. He said a letter of interest must be submitted to the county by July 25. He described the grant application and allocation process. He did not describe their fee structure but said that administration costs could not be paid for by grant funds.

A citizen addressed the Council with concerns about a dog on North Commerce street that she said was dangerous and is not properly contained by the owner. She said the dog had killed her cat and attacked her daughter on her property. She said Williamson County Animal Control told her they could do nothing about it unless they witnessed specific violations. She said the dog was temporarily quarantined by the County as a result of the bite but then released. The Mayor promised to investigate the matter and get back to her.

The Mayor presented an ordinance to revise the 2014 City Budget. The revision corrects an addition error in one of the sub-totals and moves funds from Contract Services to Road Maintenance. The ordinance was unanimously adopted by the Aldermen present at the meeting.

The Prinz Estates final plat is still pending corrections but the Aldermen authorized the Mayor to approve the final plat if the corrections recommended by the City Engineer are made by the Prinz’s surveyor.

Mayor Piper requested feedback from the Aldermen on the City website. There was a request to add the normal meeting schedule to the website. (The City Council meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7 PM at the Coupland Fire Station.)

With regard to mowing city streets, the Mayor said he had spoken with the Texas Municipal League (TML) and that they had told him it was okay to hire locally and that contractors would be covered by the City’s general liability coverage through TML. The Aldermen authorized the Mayor to negotiate and execute a mowing contract for those areas that are not being mowed by the property owner adjacent to the City-owned Right-of-Way. The main areas in need of mowing are parts of Commerce Street, Hoxie Street, and South Broad Street.

The Mayor provided information about a meeting held on July 7 by the Lower Brushy Creek Water Control Improvement District (WCID). He is on the steering committee for the rehabilitation of Site 32, the lake that is east of Lake Road. The dam, and the lake formed by that dam, are on private property. According to the Mayor, however, because of new criteria established by the state, the dam is now considered a “high hazard dam.” The dam is 54 years old. The original design was intended to last 50 years. Multiple owners are involved. Different people own the dam, the water, and the land under the dam. Mayor Piper said a dam failure would only affect specific property owners east of the railroad tracks and is not a general threat to the community. Rehabilitation of the dam in in the planning process at this time. The WCID might be able to access some Federal funds to support the project. The Lower Brushy Creek WCID will meet again in the fall. Meetings of the WCID are public meetings but the July meeting was advertised only in the Taylor Daily Press. The Mayor said he would ensure that future meeting notices are published/posted in more local venues. Other members are Chris Pfluger (principal landowner), Don Wernli (downstream landowner), Tracy Gardner (Fire Chief), and Jared Thomas (Williamson County Emergency Management Coordinator). Listed as resources are James Clarno (District Engineer), Connie Ramirez (District Conservationist), and James Featherston (M&E Consulting, Heidenheimer, TX).

There was a discussion regarding the General Election set for November 4. Three Aldermen terms are set to expire. The incumbents are Barbara Piper, Susan Schmidt, and Eldridge Tidwell. The Mayor said that if only those three persons submit an application to appear on the ballot, they will be automatically elected, even though their names would still be on the ballot. The Notice of Deadline to apply was posted at the Fire Station and on the City’s website. The Mayor said that the application form will also be posted on the website. The filing period is July 19 through 5 PM on August 18.

A local citizen came late to the meeting but had questions about the dam and a possible new subdivision called Helena Acres. Ms. Piper said that she had already contacted the owners and that it was not to be a subdivision but a seed farm.

A discussion about “trashy” properties was also on the agenda. Ms. Marosko suggested sending letters to the property owners in question. Ms. Piper said that such properties affect the way the city looks and invites the wrong type of growth. She also said there is a rodent problem this year, presumably related to the existence of trashy properties. Yours Truly said that a reader of The Coupland Times, who said he grew up in Coupland, commented online about how good the city looks. He said, “[The] town looked nice and I was proud of the clean up that has been done.” A citizen offered suggestions to promote beautification efforts. No formal action was taken.

At the end of the meeting, a young and remarkably well-spoken young child addressed the City Council with an prescient warning: “Did you know that it’s gonna start raining? The rain clouds are building up. Oh! It’s already raining!” The meeting was adjourned by the Mayor while the City Secretary rushed outside to roll up his car windows in the sudden rain shower.

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