Council starts new year with short agenda

The Brady City Council started the new year with a meeting unlike what they’ve been accustomed to in previous months’short, sweet and to the point. In under 30 minutes, the council approved all three agenda ordinances and heard a brief update from City Manager Merle Taylor. As the first ordinance on the agenda, the council voted unanimously to approve the second and final reading authorizing a settlement payment to Purcell Construction for work completed on the water treatment plant. Up next, City Finance Officer Lisa Remini briefed the panel and audience on new restructured prices from the city’s utility provider, Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). She noted that the restrictions will no longer support the key account program (which was used in calculating a utility price for the city’s largest customer, Oglebay Norton) that had been offered to the City of Brady during it’s first year with LCRA. “What that means is we only had one industrial customer that qualified for this program,” she explained. “The program offered a benefit to those that qualified in their pricing. LCRA sent us the information to be able to pass on that percentage to that customer. Because of the amount they use overall, their electricity can be cheaper because they run 24 hours a day. Through that program we were passing that percentage of savings on to Oglebay Norton. LCRA is no longer participating in that program. They are going to a time of use program now.” Mrs. Remini asked that the council reword one sentence of the current ordinance to state that the remainder of the customers will get the benefit of the change. Oglebay’s rate will increase slightly because they will be billed at the same rate as everyone else. According to Mrs. Remini, the company pays around $335,000 per year in utility cost to the city, and by changing this structure (based on the same amount of usage as the previous year), they can anticipate an increase of approximately $6,000 per year. “If we chose to continue a key program, which we can do, that means the city would manually have to calculate the percentage,” Mrs. Remini explained; “however, it lends itself to more human error. In an automated world, we need to be utilizing the accuracy of automated systems. “Their rates are still different under an industrial usage,” she added. “It’s just that small discount that LCRA was calculating and sending to us is going away. I won’t be able to get that data. Actually, that benefit that Ogelbay gets is now going to be spread amongst the other customers.” Mrs. Remini added that Oglebay Norton had only been on the program for one year and otherwise had never benefitted from the lower rate. “The only thing that needs to change is the reference to key accounts,” she said. “The rates were not changed for any class (of utility usage). “This is a mere technicality to change the wording of the ordinance to meet the changes LCRA has implemented,” explained Mayor James Stewart. The item was met by unanimous approval on the first reading. As the final ordinance on Wednesday’s agenda, the council addressed the animal control ordinance which requires a fee for licensing for dogs and cats to be included in the ordinance which officially came into effect in November. “There’s a lot of information to wade through, and it will take us time to see how all it applies,” said Stewart. “It’s going to be a learning curve, and it’s going to take everyone awhile to get used to it’ both on the city side and resident’s side. We’re working on fixing the problems we have. “Essentially, what we have before us is for the council to pass an amendment to the ordinance that sets a fee of $3 per dog and $2 per cat.” After the caption was read, Councilman Rey Garza made the motion that the item be approved on the first reading. It was followed by a unanimous approval. All pet owners residing in the City of Brady should bring a receipt of vaccination to City Hall for registration. Free registration will continue through the month of January. Fees will be assessed after that deadline. Registration is valid for three years. In the city manager’s report, Taylor noted that the South Bridge Street project’with the exception of highway striping’was completed the Saturday prior to Christmas. He also informed the council that Cory Walker has been hired as the new golf course superintendent and will assume the full-time position Jan. 7. In citizen’s comments, Joe Sanchez, after welcoming Councilman Billy Patterson back to the council following an extended leave for health reasons, praised the city for its clean-up efforts in 2007 and asked that they continue along that same path in the new year.

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