Fire truck topic heads City Council meeting

In what quickly became a standing room only situation, Tuesday’s City Council meeting was moved from its regular site at Council Chambers to the Heart of Texas Civic Center to accommodate the growing crowd of concerned citizens. In the public hearing concerning the proposed 2000-2001 fiscal year budget, Jesse Slaughter, president of the Brady Volunteer Fire Department Inc., addressed the Council. He spoke of the department’s concerns with the much-outdated equipment still in operation in both the Brady Fire Department and the BVFD. In his address to the City Council, Slaughter touched on three major concerns within the department’the current Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating, safety of the community and of the firefighters and Brady Fire Chief Jonathan Weidemann. Based on a one to 10 rate scale with one being the best, the City of Brady is currently ISO rated as a six. According to Slaughter, “This is less than half of what we could and should be.” Brady was last rated in 1991. Chief Weidemann added that the City is overdue for another rating. Two of the key factors that played an important role in the current quality rating was insufficient equipment and personnel training. By adding the new fire truck evaluated by the department ($167, 984.30), Brady could lower its ISO rating which incidentally doesn’t only improve the fire department’s reliability and efficiency to the community, but also plays an heavy role in lowering the cost of annual insurance policies. For example: Currently rated as a six, an annual insurance payment for a $60,000 policy could increase from $773 to $807. If the ISO rating was lowered as a result of the purchase of the new fire truck, a rating of four could drop that same $773 policy payment to $702. As an individual policy, the increase or decrease is minimal, but on a whole across the Brady area, the ISO rating could drastically affect the community. With Councilman Matt Mills confirming that the fire truck was in the 2000-2001 fiscal year budget, the only question that remained was whether to try and purchase the truck outright or consider entering into a lease purchase agreement. The truck, which comes fully-loaded with an extra set of rescue tools, could be leased through BankOne Leasing on a seven-year term for $30,073.29 annually at a 5.98 percent interest rate or on a 10-year term for 6.22 percent. The biggest concern stressed in the meeting was whether the city would be financially capable of purchasing the truck in full during the next fiscal year. The discussion ended following a request by Councilman Sharp to revert to the previous department budget allowing for the truck to be purchased over a four-year term. The Council passed the first reading of the budget three to two with Sharp and McAnally voting against. The Council conducted a public hearing to answer questions and concerns regarding the 1999 Brady Water Quality Report. Required by law, the Council mailed out 4,000 reports to the Brady area informing residents of the level of contaminants in the water supply. Two separate reports were sent out to the public. The first report was for residents residing inside the city limits and the second was for residents at Brady Lake. City Manager Gary Broz went on to add that all residents who did not receive a report in the mail could easily obtain one at City Hall. In other business, the Council heard a request from Gayla Bowen to have access to two city employees, a front-end loader and a dump truck during the upcoming Keep Brady Beautiful Trash-off and Recycling Event scheduled for Aug. 11-13. KBB has targeted 15 abandoned houses located around the Old Mason Road in the eastern portion of the city. “We don’t want money, we just want equipment and personnel,” said Mrs. Bowen. She went on to add that TNRCC has agreed to allow a variance for the three days of clean up to ensure that the city is not penalized for exceeding the 20,000 daily tonnage at the landfill. The request will be placed on the next agenda for consideration as an action item. Another item on Tuesday’s agenda for discussion concerned a proposed child curfew for Brady youth. Betty Hillhouse informed the Council of her concerns and fears that the property damage with which she and many of her neighboring residents are faced on a nightly basis is rapidly climbing out of control. “It is my understanding that after midnight there is only one police officer patrolling the streets,” said Mrs. Hillhouse. “We need something done about it.” Brady Police Chief John Stewart stood and spoke about the issue. He said that with the police department in charge of enforcing such a curfew, the city would be faced with a shortage of officers patrolling the streets for more hardened criminals who have every right to be out past an established curfew. Sympathizing with all concerned citizens affected by the increase in graffiti and property damage, the Council agreed with the comments expressed by Stewart that a curfew should be a parent-issued form of control. Chief Stewart did add, however, that many of the crimes witnessed go un-reported each day. He added that if concerned citizens would initiate a complaint or report a crime being committed, violations could be decreased dramatically. In the third and final public discussion item of the meeting, Bill Ricks went before the Council with his concerns about city financial and official responsibility. “These conversations and egotistical remarks we sometimes hear aren’t good for anybody,” said Ricks. “I encourage everyone here to get a copy of the City Charter and read it because that’s the law of the land.” In the ordinance category, the Council: ‘Approved the second reading of an ordinance setting speed limits for school zones and one-way streets within the Brady city limits; ‘Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending park fees at Richards Park from $4.50 to $7.50 per night’s stay; ‘Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending cemetery fees (purchase of lots) to $250 for residents living inside the city limits and $325 for residents living outside the city limits; (opening and closing of graves) $250 on normal workdays inside the city limits and $300 on Saturday and holidays (no Sunday services or Monday services before 10 a.m. shall be allowed); ‘Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending solid waste landfill fees from $4 per cubic yard to $9.50 per ton (trash, rubbish, brush, leaves, etc.); from $4 per cubic yard to $16.50 per ton for commercial business use; and from $4 to $22.50 per ton for service to residents and businesses located outside the city limits; ‘Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending EMS fees to $285 for basic services; $350 for advanced life support; and all mileage charges from $3 to $5 per mile; ‘Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending water rates from a residential base meter charge of $5 to $7.50 per month; and a commercial base meter charge of $6 to $8 per month with the same breakdown of escalated usage. Another ordinance on the agenda to amend fees for the Heart of Texas Civic Center was tabled until a later meeting to ensure that the Civic Center’s board of directors were properly informed of the proposed changes. The Council approved two action items that would allow the use of the G. Rollie White Complex for both the Brady Junior Rodeo Association and the Brady Youth Sports Foundation. A few changes were made to each contract including a clause that requires each party to provide the City with a 30-day notice prior to the use of the facility. An agreement was made by the City Council to allow both residents whose property fronts on Matthew Street an equal opportunity to purchase the dead-end street from the City of Brady. First brought to the Council in a May meeting, Ronnie McBee asked to purchase the portion of the street that fronts his property. If both residents wish to purchase the portion of the street, each will receive equal halves of the property; however, if only McBee chooses to purchase the street, he will take sole ownership over the property. In other business, the Council voted to adopt a resolution to pursue phase two of improvements to Curtis Field Airport. The improvements will include extensions to the runway and taxi-way; the relocation of lights and the installation of new fencing. If approved, the project will be a 90/10 grant with the City of Brady paying only 10 percent of the total costs incurred. An estimated $150,000 will be required for the city’s portion of the funding with the remaining balance of the project funded by the Texas Department of Transportation. The Council agreed to adopt the resolution with the understanding that the Economic Development Corporation would consider sharing a portion of the $150,000 as the organization did previously in the last phase of the airport expansion. The City Council voted to table the action item that would have the Brady/McCulloch County Chamber of Commerce splitting carnival proceeds with the Brady Little League Association. Because no information had been discussed with the Chamber, the discussion will be moved to the next available date. In another action item, the Council voted to allow the EDC to take action in pursuing a new dairy business that could possibly generate new jobs and thousands of dollars in sales taxes and city revenues. The Council agreed to permit the EDC to provide incentives to help bring the new dairy to McCulloch County. The group is required to go before the Council for approval to use EDC money outside the city limits. The Council added that EDC must obtain a legal opinion from the city attorney as well as support from the board of directors of the EDC before pursuing the project any further. In the last action item of the meeting, the Council voted to approve $2,500 in funding for the McCulloch County Conservation Association for the 2001 budget year. The money will help the association pay for two trappers’ salaries. In the past, the MCCA relied on funding from the McCulloch County Commissioners and G. Rollie White grants. Because predator control plays an important role in the economic growth of the city where its hunting industry is concerned, the Council voted to authorize a change in the budget to accommodate the $2,500 request out of the contingency fund.

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