Stephenville Council to hear report on HB Restaurants deal after miscue

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HB Restaurant's tax rebate is on hold as the Stephenville City Council needs to correct how it handled the procedure. The rebate granted during a 1 pm meeting rather than regular business meeting has been openly questioned.

 

By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Flash Today

STEPHENVILLE (January 4, 2015) – The Stephenville City Council is expected to hear results of an ‘Agreed-Upon Procedures Report’ that is expected to give another look at the state of the city’s Planning and Building Services Department’s documentation.

The report was requested by Councilwoman Sherry Zachery following an earlier report which showed the department’s documentation was ‘a mess.’ The report covering September 1, 2014, and July 31, 2015, showed certificates of occupancy and building permits being issued without inspections, signatures and proper studies.

Allegations of misconduct and a lack of professionalism in the department led to a complete changing of the guard from the director’s on down to city inspectors. Former City Inspector Joe Ann Everett has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city alleging she was fired from her job after reporting illegal activity involving the improper issuing of city permits.

Zachery requested the report (September 1, 2013 to July 31, 2014) because she felt the council was being given too limited a “snapshot” of what had been occurring in the department. Melanie Taylor, CPA/CFE, at Boucher, Morgan & Young is expected to present the report as part of the council’s regular agenda.

Another hot-ticket item for the council is the sales tax rebate promised to HB Restaurants who plan to open a restaurant at the old Fiddle Creek location. A scaled rebate system was agreed to, but apparently a motion tying Stephenville Economic Development Authority (SEDA) funds to the rebate is not the proper procedure.

While the rebate was recently approved by the council, it has not been without some controversy and Councilman Jerry Warren has since encouraged local restaurant owners to attend Tuesday’s meeting to voice any concerns they may have.

Social media has been abuzz about the rebate with concerns the new restaurant is being given considerations others such as Greer’s Ranch Café on the square was not.

Phil Greer and Maddison Melton, are actually on the agenda to speak about the “Impact of Alcoholic Beverage Laws on the Local Restaurant.” It is unknown if they will also address the rebate issue.

Another subject on everyone’s mind as of late has been the new law concerning “open carry.” The council is expected to pass an ordinance prohibiting open carry in City Council Chambers, as well as the item to consider prayer at city council meetings. Tuesday’s regular meeting of the council is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

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