Animal control ordinance garners much discussion

With several complaints about the out-of-control domestic animal population within the city limits, the Brady City Council took the first steps of many to try and combat the issue. As the first reading of an ordinance to add licensing requirements for breeders in areas used or zoned for residential purposes, the council looked at a number of different options for change but couldn’t nail down any definite decisions and voted to table the issue until the next session. The focus of the discussion centered around the number of animals that breeders can have within a designated area, which is 500 square feet per adult animal with no more than three per household. Also, the council wants to include that dogs cannot be chained to meters because it is a safety concern for meter readers, local law enforcement and any other utility worker needing access to the property. Where the case of a breeding facility is concerned, the council intends to include that the premises pass an inspection prior to any permit being issued. The animal control officer will be responsible for handling such inspections. Questions from local citizens have been raised about including exotic animals to the proposed changes; however, Assistant City Attorney Matt de Firrandi, who was present for Wednesday’s meeting, noted that issue was already addressed in the current ordinance. “There is enough issues that I will need to discuss this further with your city manager,” he said. De Firrandi recommended that the group get everything tied down and all issues addressed before the next meeting. Councilman Rey Garza commented that enforcing the ordinance is the biggest problem that the city faces, to which Taylor responded that the ordinance needs to be in place, and updated with the recommended changes, prior to the enforcement concerns becoming an issue. The council stressed how they wanted to ensure that the ordinance is worded properly and followed accordingly so that, in the event a ticket is required, the issue won’t be thrown out of court due to inconsistency on the city’s part. Also addressed Wednesday was the plan to include that property owners be prohibited from chaining an animal in the front yard. They can be secured at the rear of the facility by either a dog run or fence. A first offense for violation of the ordinance is $250 with the second increasing to $500. As the discussion narrowed to a close about the ordinance, Mayor James Stewart made the formal suggestion that the council table the issue until all the “kinks” could be worked out and the ordinance restructured. As the first action item on the agenda, the council voted unanimously to authorize the city attorney to actively begin legal documentation releasing the City of Brady from its contractual obligations with Jim Dunigan. The contract between the city and Dunigan concerned a lease for the G. Rollie White Complex. According to City Manager Merle Taylor, an outside party has expressed an interest in leasing the facility with gaming plans in mind. “The potential of the G. Rollie White Complex is tremendous,” he told the council, adding that the company which has expressed an interest has direct contacts with the gaming industry in Las Vegas. Taylor also mentioned that the requirements of Dunigan’s contract have not been met, and the process has been ongoing for three months now with no success. No money has been provided to the city, even though the contract called for one percent of Dunigan’s gross to be paid to the city. To date, no activity has taken place at the facility under Dunigan’s direction. The final action item had the city council approving Stewart’s request to appoint a seven-member panel as the gun range committee. The purpose of the committee is “first and foremost” safety. “Our main objective is to find a safe and long-term solution for the gun range,” Stewart said. One property owner whose property adjoins the gun range has expressed a number of concerns about the gun range and its close proximity to his property. “He wants to be able to use his property without fear of ricochet or stray gun fire,” said Stewart. “The problem is real, and there needs to be a long term resolution.” Stewart stated that there are certain things that are beyond the city’s control because the property falls under NRCS and USDA guidelines where the Brady Lake dam comes into play. “This (the gun range) is a valuable asset in tandem with the lake and marina and where we’re headed with respect to these issues,” Stewart concluded. Appointed to the committee were Jeff Cox, local Game Warden; Andy Larson, Texas Muzzle Loaders Association; Kevin Delk, Brady Rod & Gun Club; Mike Williams, Texas Single Shot Rifle Association; and Jack Richardson and Tom Sammons, McCulloch County 4-H Shooting Sports and Stewart. In other business, the city council approved the first reading of an ordinance amending the quarterly hotel/motel occupancy tax. Included in the amendment was the addition of a penalty fee for late payment of quarterly payments. The council agreed to assess a $50 late fee if not paid on time. Leading up to Wednesday’s council meeting, the process of collecting the dues for some owners included certified letters and various phone calls requesting payment. According to Taylor, the $50 late fee is a commonly assessed fee issued by other municipalities faced with the same concerns. Lisa Remini confirmed that some of the payments are as late as an entire quarter (three months). “For the most part, the hotel/motel owners have been fairly responsible with us,” Taylor said, adding that the timely collection of the hotel/motel occupancy tax directly affects the Chamber of Commerce and tourism board. De Firrandi assured the city council that, if a letter from the city attorney’s office is needed for distribution to local hotel/motel owners, one will be provided upon request. As the next ordinance approved on its first reading, the council voted to cancel the May 12 general election and declare each unopposed candidate elected to office. One topic that will need to be addressed prior to the next reading will be whether or not the city has to accommodate for the school board election which was originally deemed a joint election between the two entities. City Secretary Christi McAnally explained that she was informed that the city would be responsible to conduct the school board election; however, de Firrandi felt sure that the responsibility would now fall on the county. A more precise decision will be available for the next meeting. The mayor took a few minutes during council comments to provide an update on the recently- organized clean-up committee which met earlier this month and is “actively making headway,” according to Stewart. He touched on a few upcoming clean-up events already in the works, including a litter collection campaign scheduled for April 14, which will coincide with the annual “Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off,” The second is a now two-day citywide clean-up planned for April 20 and 21. The latter of the two clean-up events will offer free dumping at the Brady landfill, provided that such items meet the requirements as set by the City of Brady and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) which monitors not only the types of items disposed of at the landfill but also the tonnage allowed. Stewart noted that the recent tire collection has been “put to rest” at this time and that the city has spent more than the initial money allocated for the project. Deemed an overwhelming success with more than 8,000 tires deposited at the G. Rollie White Complex, Stewart, as well as a number of council members, noted that a large number of tires still remain within the city limits and its extraterritorial jurisdiction (approximately one mile outside the city limits). However, Stewart stated that the focus must now shift toward aesthetic improvements within the city and the highways leading into the community. A target goal for the two-day clean-up on April 20 and 21 is to bring in 40-foot roll off dumpsters each capable of holding 20-25 tons of refuse. The containers cost approximately $1,000 each, and that fee covers not only the tonnage collected but the delivery and pick-up of the unit, as well. The mayor and members of the cleanup committee are challenging business owners and citizens to get involved in the clean-up campaign and help to sponsor a container for the event. Any amount of donation would be beneficial to the project. Leading up to the event, signs will be posted around town and radio and newspaper publicity will be increased urging the community to show its support for the clean-up campaign. “This is simple education,” said Stewart. “A lot of people don’t know the recycling capabilities that are out there. People are talking about it and doing things on their own. We don’t want to have to force anyone to do anything. Voluntary compliance is the best way to go for both of us (the city and its citizens).” In the city finance officer’s report, Mrs. Remini stated that as of Feb. 28, the city maintained $3,853,745 in the account at Brady National Bank and its collective CD investments (at Brady National Bank and Commercial National Bank) totaled $977,881. She also noted that at the end of March, the city will have completed the first six months of its fiscal year operations and that in the near future will be reviewing performance-to-budget and at that time will need to make any necessary repairs or amendments. In Taylor’s city manager’s report, he referenced the road construction progress on South Bridge Street, adding that it has slowed slightly due to rainfall. He reported that Wal-Mart held its pre-bidding contractors meeting recently and will soon start the beginning stages of construction. Also, he stated that residents in the Calf Creek Road area will be experiencing low water pressure in the coming days due to water well repairs.

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