BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
STEPHENVILLE (August 3, 2016) – Stephenville is going to be paying about $400,000 more than first projected costs of $1.5 million for the 2016 Tarleton Methodist Branch Sanitary Sewer Relief Line Project.
The Stephenville City Council dealt with the project as part of their regular monthly business meeting held Tuesday in council chambers. The project includes the installation of 21-inch sanitary sewer and six-inch water lines.
Director of Public Works Nick Williams explained the additional costs have come about due to changes in the plan including larger manhole covers and other requirements. Only two bids were submitted for the project and Williams speculated the current economy isn’t leaving contractors “hungry” for jobs.
Funding reserves are expected to pay for the project which received one “no” vote from Councilman Rhett Harrison who has advocated putting such a large expenditure to a public vote.
Putting the issue to a vote would require time and Stephenville officials say they are already behind the curve. Current flow capacities for the sewer branch are an estimated 1.7 million gallons per day and Tarleton State University’s two new dorms are about to come online and are projected to immediately overburden the system.
Completion of the project is expected to take seven months and will be done by B&L Construction Company who submitted the winning bid of $1.988 million. That figured paled in comparison to a second bid of $2.9 million submitted by North Texas Contracting.
Bruce Glover presented the council with the city’s annual report for specialized billing. The report includes costs and reimbursements of insurance, Medicaid, private pay and council members appeared a little dismayed to see figures bordering $2 million in write-offs (unpaid services like ambulance runs) only to learn Stephenville is still ahead of the state-wide averages.
Police Chief Jason King presented a grant application for additional body cameras for police officers who are currently sharing cameras. The grant requires 25-percent matching funds of just over $5,000. Chief King reported District Attorney Alan Nash and County Attorney Lisa Pence had both agreed for their offices to come up with $2,000 from forfeiture funds. Stephenville’s similar fund will make up the difference as the council gave its full approval for the grant.
During the July 2016 council meeting the wording on the Stephenville Economic Development Authority’s conflict of interest policy was called into question after being presented by newly hired executive director John Hubbard.
The policy was represented by Hubbard and SEDA board member Shelby Slawson (an attorney) who explained the wording in the policy was also used by the IRS in determining if a person would be in conflict of interest and receiving an unlawful benefit. The new policy was passed by a unanimous vote.
Dr. Jill Burke (Tarleton State) and Kathy Haynes (Stephenville ISD) presented a report from the Bosque River Trail Coalition’s education committee and how the projects in school are correlating with the studies of fourth graders who are beginning the studies of rivers. Even Stephenville’s historic Thurber brick streets are part of the curriculum.
Two SISD fourth graders were honored for their contest entries with Jayci Smith and Devin Arms being presented before the council while wearing the T-shirts for the project.
The council also honored the Stephenville HEB with a proclamation read by Mayor Kenny Weldon for their 25 years of operation in town.
City Administrator Pat Bridges reminded the council that August is a busy month. Below are some of the events on tap for city officials:
August 1-5 – Council Budget Work Session
August 11 – Annexation Committee
August 16 – Special Council Meeting
August 17 – Planning and Zoning Commission
August 18 – Park and Rec Advisory Board
August 19 – Airport Advisory Board
August 23 – Special Council Meeting – Public Hearing on the Budget