By JESSIE HORTON
DUBLIN (October 20, 2015) — Members of Dublin City Council spent more than three hours discussing city matters Monday evening including several housekeeping items, annexation, employees, code enforcement and much more.
Two of the hottest topics at the meeting were the annexation of property along State Highway 6, East of Dublin toward the high school, and code enforcement.
Councilmen Layne Golden and Melvin ‘Mac’ McMullen both seemed in favor of annexation of the 13 tracts of property between the school and the city limits. While those tracts of land are all different sizes, the average tax dollars the city could see from them is $1,000 per year.
According to council members involved in the research, namely Golden, the land owners could expect to see an estimated $20-$25 a month increase after services were factored in. He told fellow council members that after the properties were annexed, the cost of city services they currently pay for would go down, offsetting the increase in taxes.
However, not all council members were in favor of annexation. Councilman Jimmy Leatherwood said those property owners had no desire to join the city of Dublin and he advised that if one were to ask those property owners, they would rather pay the extra money for services and not be a part of the city.
This discussion went on for a while before council members agreed to take no action until further research could be done and more information could be presented.
The council spent a majority of their meeting arguing about the city’s code enforcement department. According to numerous council members, there were a large number of code enforcement notifications sent out and placed on doors warning an estimated 200 Dublin residents and land owners of various violations of Dublin City Code. However, councilmen contended that code enforcement employees are not using common sense when doling out the warnings.
“Not only did I get one notification from the city for grass on my property being above 11 inches, I got three and they were sent as certified letters to my sister’s former address, which costs about $7 each,” said Councilmen John Johnson. “So not only did the city spend $21 notifying a council member they could’ve just contacted face-to-face, but they spent it to send letters to the wrong address. If the person who lives there now hadn’t known me, I’d never have gotten those letters. It’s a complete waste of taxpayer dollars because we have employees who don’t have any common sense.”
Another council member advised they’d been contacted by Erath County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2, Bart Greenaway, who has been working on a house in the city limits for some weeks now after regular business hours at the Dublin Courthouse Annex. Greenaway had reportedly taken down some of the rotten trimming on a house in order to repaint it. With the rest of the house near completion, Greenaway received a notice from code enforcement for not displaying the house numbers correctly.
“This is, once again, a demonstration of the lack of common sense we’ve got in our code enforcement department,” Councilman Leatherwood said.
“You can have all the book smarts in the world, but if you don’t have any common sense you’re still stupid,” Councilman Fred Lisso said. “You can enforce the rules and still know how to communicate with these people. All it takes is a verbal communication before you just go slapping warnings and tickets on properties.”
After much discussion on the issues faced by the department, Public Works Director Cory James, told council members the department was simply enforcing what the council had approved. However, he advised the council he and the code enforcement department would work more closely and communicate better with the community moving forward.
Members of the council approved amending the Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste Ordinance to set the twenty-fifth day of each month as the LAST day to pay city utility bills without late fees. Council also approved an amendment to the ordinance that waives charges for museums’ utility accounts (non-profit museums).
In other city business, council members were resoundingly opposed to a suggestion from City Administrator Nancy Wooldridge to have two council meetings per month. Wooldridge and her staff contend that opportunities have been missed because a council quorum could not be put together in time to approve measures for grant applications and other instances. However, council members said if staff needs another meeting in a month, they would have a special called meeting.
Council members approved several housekeeping items, including:
• awarding contracts for the removal of sludge from the city’s wastewater treatment plant,
• awarding contracts for the rehabilitation of the city’s airport runway,
• awarding bids for the Clean Water Fund project including engineering, financial advisory, and bond counsel services and the selection of consultants for each discipline from the respondents,
• allowing Public Works Director Cory James to write a letter asking for TXDOT to assist the city with the drainage problem on Patrick and Elm Streets,
• allowing Nancy Wooldridge (city admin) to replace former admin Jerry Guillory on the city’s TexPool account,
• 2014-2015 budget adjustments,
• naming the Dublin Citizen as the city’s newspaper,
• accepting the 2016 Electric Reliability Council of Texas membership,
• setting a Parks Committee meeting,
• updates on flooring and painting in Dublin City Hall,
• updates on the city’s various personnel policies and
• a reevaluation of employee benefits verses paid time off.
A few of these items, including the employee benefits, online bill pay and other updates and requests were tabled until further information could be presented or until newly appointed department heads could present information needed.
The next Dublin City Council meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room of Dublin City Hall on Monday, November 9.