By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Flash Today
STEPHENVILLE (January 5, 2016) – Sometimes confusion comes with new territory, and a motion that might have obligated Stephenville Economic Development Authority (SEDA) funds to a rebate can’t happen without action from SEDA, the Stephenville City Council learned during its regular monthly business meeting Tuesday.
A tax rebate for HB Restaurants is now on hold as the city of Stephenville continues to learn the ins and outs of economic development. However, HB Restaurants isn’t seeking SEDA funds, but is instead seeking help under Chapter 380 of Texas Local Government Code. That code allows cities to make loans or grants of public funds for the purpose of promoting economic development.
Having an experienced person on board as the executive director of SEDA continues to be an emphasis for SEDA board members who have sifted through 53 applicants. It appears five candidates have emerged as front runners for the job with three having already been interviewed and two more expected to interview next week. SEDA is expected to present a finalist to the council at next month’s regular meeting.
Not everyone is happy to see Stephenville considering tax abatements/rebates to an incoming restaurant. Speaking during citizen input were Mike Blue (Montanas) and V.W. Stephens (Agave), who stressed they believed economic funds should be reserved for “large impact businesses that bring numerous jobs.”
An Agreed Upon Procedures Report presented by Melanie Taylor CPA/CFE with Boucher, Morgan & Young showed the city’ planning and building services department’s documentation was in no better shape in the year prior than it was in a recent “snapshot” presented to the council.
Taylor did have good news.
“The money trail was very easy to follow,” Taylor said. “Not even a penny came into question.”
Recently hired Director of Planning and Building Services Noah Cullis has pledged changes for his department and has already been receiving compliments for his diligence.
Police Chief Jason King presented an ordinance for the council’s approval that prohibits the open carry of a handgun into council chambers while the council is meeting. The ordinance covers any “open meeting,” such as planning and zoning ,that deals as a governmental body.
The ordinance would call for removable signs that can be taken down when the chamber is not being used by the council.
Chief King said the public still has many questions concerning open carry which is why he is teaming up with Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant, District Attorney Alan Nash, Erath County Attorney Lisa Pence and other officials for an Open Carry Forum. The forum is Wednesday (January 6) at 6 p.m. in the jury pool room at the Erath County Courthouse Annex. (Please note Open Carry is not allowed there.)
The council also approved continuation of Phase 1 and 2 of the Eastside Sewer Project for planning and specifications for design, survey and easement parcel preparations. Director of Public Works Nick Williams reported the main sewer line servicing the area is at 85 percent capacity and with additional housing going up in the area he is unsure how long it will be before overflows begin occurring.
It’s going to be a costly project and councilman Rhett Harrison expressed concern over the hefty $700,000 price tag. With such a high price, Harrison suggested the matter be put before voters. Mayor Pro Tem Russ McDanel pointed out the city could be facing fines from the state if the issue leads to overflow reports. Harrison cast the lone “no” vote against the study.