By Will Johnson
CROCKETT – After not being able to hold an official meeting on Monday, May 16 because of the lack of a quorum, the Crockett City Council gave it another try on Thursday, May 19.
This time they were successful and Crockett Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher gaveled the meeting to order at 6:30 pm. With no public comments or comments from the council members, Mayor Fisher moved the meeting into the actionable items portion of the agenda.
During his report to the council, Police Chief Clayton Smith addressed the inmate who escaped from TDCJ custody while on a bus in Leon County.
“We have received several calls about the escaped inmate from Leon County. We have no reason to believe or no information to indicate he is in this area. However, we encourage everyone to be watchful and keep your vehicles locked, because you never know when he could move this way. That is what we are telling the public. We have no reason to believe he is in the area,” Smith said.
Following the reports segment of the agenda, City Administrator John Angerstein provided an update on Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) violations and public notices.
“I wanted to let council know that the violations shown to us by the TCEQ have been corrected,” he said.
Angerstein explained chain-of-custody matters for collection of water samples would have been alleviated had proper procedures been followed. He added violations from 2018 and 2019 had been taken care of by changing the way the city flushes it water lines and the way the city’s water is treated.
The next agenda item pertained to city departmental capital requests for the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget.
“I have capital requests that have been submitted by department heads. This is one of the first steps in building next year’s budget, which starts in October 2022. Going into this, I wanted to make you aware that we have received the preliminary values from the (Houston County) Appraisal District,” Angerstein said.
The city administrator commented the preliminary values went from $302 million for FY 2022 to $330 million in FY 2023.
“In some people’s minds, that would mean we would bring in more revenue. We’re not allowed to. Just because the values went up does not mean we will be able to bring in more revenue. We are going to have to lower our tax rates to make sure we do not bring in any more revenue. The cap is we can not bring in more than 3.5 percent more revenue than we did last year. Whatever that revenue was last year, we are not allowed to take advantage of that, so to speak, because these homes selling for a higher price and the values are going up,” he said.
Because of this, Angerstein explained there would have to be budget cuts to stay within the 3.5 percent increase, despite rising costs of items such as fuel.
“Otherwise, we are going to have to have an election to ask the public to allow a higher tax rate to bring in more revenues,” he said.
In addition, Angerstein added it was his belief the city’s waste service provider would be asking for a seven percent rate hike as part of their contract with the city. That would equate to a rise in garbage service rates from $20.16 to $21.68, or about $1.50 per month increase for residential service.
After addressing several more concerns about the budget, Angerstein gave the various department heads a chance to request funding for capital purchases in FY 2023.
Among the items requested were more paid personnel for the fire department, new vehicles for the police department, pay hikes for the city employees, vehicles for the streets department and equipment for the water and sewer department, among other items.
In other matters brought before the City Council:
- Minutes from the Regular Meeting held on May 2 were approved.
- Crockett Police Chief Clayton Smith reported the police department received 564 calls for service during the month of April which resulted in 39 arrests. There were 196 traffic citations issued and 79 police reports filed.
- Crockett Fire Chief Jason Frizzell reported the fire department responded to 52 total calls during the month of April. Of the 52 calls, Frizzell reported 31 were in the city of Crockett while 21 were in the county. The Fire Chief also reported there were no structure fires within the city limits and none within the county.
- The firm of Traylor and Associates, Inc. was selected as the grant writer/administrator to assist the city in its application and administration of a contract, if awarded, from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) for downtown revitalization and main street programs.
- The firm of Traylor and Associates, Inc. was selected as the grant writer/administrator to assist the city in its application and administration of a contract, if awarded, from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Fire, Ambulance and Services Truck Fund (Fast) for emergency response and special services to rural areas.
- A resolution of the City of Crockett authorizing the submission of a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) application through the Texas Division of Emergency Management and authorizing the mayor and city manager to act as the city’s executive officers and authorized representatives in all matters pertaining to the city’s participation in the DR-4485 hazard mitigation grant program was adopted.
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.