August 2012

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MEDC Funds Water/Sewer Line Improvements on Hwy 6

Council addresses construction noise

Council yields to PD&Z leadership on attendance policy

Manvel Company to Expand

City Council Considers 2013 Budget

 

MEDC Funds Water/Sewer Line Improvements on Hwy 6

August 1, 2012

The Chairperson of the Manvel Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Janice DelBello, informed city council at their recent meeting that funding has been approved for a water line extension, including fire hydrants, water valves, and corresponding appurtenances along State Highway 6 from Pollard Drive to the east side of US 288 and a combination of gravity and force main sanitary sewers, including manholes, air release valves, and corresponding appurtenances, and installation of a sanitary sewer lift station.

MEDC agreed to fund up to $220,000, which includes an amount over the proposed budget to compensate for likely overages.  City Manager Kyle Jung told members that $163,000 is the budget for the water line and $51,000 for the sewer line and the contract has a maximum price not to exceed $220,000.

MEDC also agreed to the funding of a new waterline serving the south side of State Highway 6 from McCoy Road to an approximate point 2,400 linear feet west.  An 8 inch water line will be bored under SH6 and connect to the existing 16 inch water line near Corporate Drive and loop into the Rogers Road West 8 inch waterline project at McCoy Road.  A gravity sanitary sewer line on the south side of SH6 will be funded as well from Corporate Drive to approximately 700 feet west.

This portion of the infrastructure improvements is expected to not exceed $1.6 million and will require the city to finance the project with the collateral and payment coming from MEDC funds.

DelBello explained that it will help the RV Park at Twin Lakes and will “hopefully bring in a new restaurant”.  She expects the provision of water/sewer capability to bring in other new businesses as well.   Mayor Martin concurred that the new infrastructure will “promote economic growth.” 

A public hearing for both actions will be held on August 8 at 7PM at City Hall.

MEDC’s creation was authorized by Manvel City Council in January 2000.  Funding is obtained from sales tax allocations.  The Board consists of a chairperson and six directors.  Key objectives of the group are to recruit new businesses, create jobs, and increase the tax base.  They also work to retain and expand existing businesses by assisting them with new job development and workforce development improvements.  Meetings are open to the public and are usually held on the second Wednesday of each month at 7PM at Manvel City Hall.

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Council addresses construction noise

August 1, 2012

Manvel city council approved the first of two readings to add a new articles to the city’s Code of Ordinances concerning construction regulations.  The new rules will regulate construction hours of operation, construction debris left on roadways, the securing of construction materials when there is an impending storm approaching the area, and acceptable sound decibel levels.

The action was prompted by citizen complaints in the area currently under construction that will ultimately be the Lakeland subdivision, located behind Manvel High School and accessed from McCoy Road.  Citizens complained of heavy equipment and trucks creating a noise nuisance as early as 4AM on some days.  Current city code requires noise levels to be below a prescribed decibel level but the rule can be difficult to enforce.  To better remedy the problem, the new ordinance will limit construction hours from 7AM to 9PM.  The goal is to limit heavy construction activities such as excavating, dirt work, site preparation, and demolition.  Lighter construction activities, such as erection, alteration, installation, and repair would be regulated by the sound ordinance.

Council member John Cox requested council consider banning construction work altogether on Sunday’s, but other members pointed out that a lot of construction work, such as tile laying and inside carpentry, is not noise generating and can be done without disrupting neighboring property owners.  Member Melody Hanson expressed her feeling that an ordinance forbidding Sunday work could even be “counterproductive if it makes the project last longer.”  Member Lew Shuffler pointed out that cutting back construction days from seven to six would reduce their available work days by more than 15%.  Council ultimately approved the no-Sunday work for heavy construction activities only.

The second reading of the proposed ordinance will be conducted at the next council meeting scheduled for August 13.  If approval is granted at that reading the ordinance will become law.

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Council yields to PD&Z leadership on attendance policy

August 8, 2012

In response to an issue recently raised by council member Adrian Gaspar regarding  some members of the city’s Planning, Development, & Zoning commission (PD&Z) having excessive absences, city council approved an amendment to the city’s Code of Ordinances pertaining to the automatic removal of members of PD&Z for failure to attend three consecutive regular meetings.

City attorney Bobby Gervais explained the current policy as enumerated in the city charter states that “any member not attending three consecutive regular meetings without being excused by the council should be automatically removed from the commission.” 

Member Lew Shuffler raised the question of what would qualify as a legitimate excuse and could that excuse possibly hinder the ability to serve effectively?  For instance, a member’s job status may change allowing them to only attend an occasional meeting, which would likely be a legitimate excuse, but it begs the question whether or not they would continue to be an effective member?  Mayor Delores Martin expressed her feeling that if a member did find themselves in that type of situation that she would hope the member would exercise the required integrity to submit a resignation.

Council ultimately agreed to grant the authority of deciding an excused absence to PD&Z itself, effectively allowing the group to decide its own attendance issues.

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Manvel Company to Expand

August 8, 2012

E-Z Line Pipe Support Company, located at 21340 Hwy 6 in Manvel, received approval for a zoning change from city council last week.  The requested change was from Heavy Commercial to Heavy Commercial with a Specific Use Permit.  According to city manager Kyle Jung, E-Z Line is the first company in Manvel to apply for the specific use permit under the new permitted use table that was adopted earlier this year.  The new table increased from about seventy to hundreds of permitted uses with a specific use permit.

With the new permit, E-Z Line intends to construct a 25,000 square foot warehouse/manufacturing building along with a 2,500 square foot office building.  Both structures will be located adjacent to their current facilities on 14-acres on Hwy 6 near the eastern city limit.  A date for ground breaking was not available but Jung indicated that the company desires to get the project started as soon as possible.

E-Z Line serves the petro-chemical, pipeline, and construction industries with various pipe support clamps and bases along with a wide variety of structural steel products.  The company website states “if it’s made from steel, we can design and fabricate it.”

E-Z Line was established in 1952 and grew along with the Houston petrochemical industry in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  In 1984 the company expanded into natural gas transmission.  Today, E-Z Line supplies products and structural steel to all major Oil & Gas companies from its two Manvel shops totaling 60,000 square feet of fabrication area and 85 full time employees.

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City Council Considers 2013 Budget

August 22, 2012

Manvel city council held a budget workshop this week to discuss the 2013 fiscal year budget.  City Manager Kyle Jung explained to council members that the property tax revenue projection assumes the current tax rate and a 96% collection rate from property taxes which result in an increase in collections of approximately $50,000 from the prior year.  He also expressed confidence that sales tax revenue will go up by $120,000 from the prior year.  Due to the expected growth in the Lakeland and Sedona Lakes subdivisions, Jung expects an increase in revenue of $90,000 in the Permits, Licenses, and Development line item and $15,000 in the Municipal Court and Police Department revenue line item.  All told, the city is budgeting total revenue of $3,909,366 for the 2013 fiscal year, which represents an increase from 2012 of approximately $314,000.

On the expenditure side, Jung told council that there are no cost of living adjustments or merit pay raises for employees included in the proposed budget.  Mayor Delores Martin justified the lack of raises explaining that most cities in the area have frozen employee pay.  City Controller Phyllis Herbst told council that all the city’s employees did receive a pay raise last year.

The Administrative line item was decreased by about $31,000 due to reductions in relocation and election expenses.  Jung explained that the City Secretary is not expecting the need for a city run-off election in the coming fiscal year.  Professional fees are expected to increase by more than $48,000 and going along with that Jung proposes that the city hire a full-time city attorney rather than continue to pay upwards of $120,000 annually to the law firm that presently handles the city’s legal requirements.  Jung has included a budget of $110,000 for salary and benefits for the position.  Council member Larry Akery inquired whether or not there is enough work for an attorney to do full time and both Jung and the city controller agreed that there is.  Jung also made the point that more work could be gotten from a full-time attorney for a comparable cost of what currently is being paid for part-time representation.

Public Works will see an increase of approximately $40,000.  Street maintenance and road repairs will see an increase in funding of $181,000 from the dedicated sales tax in addition to the $300,000 budgeted amount.  Member Maureen DelBello expressed concern that the drainage line item was reduced from $60,000 to $48,000.  It was explained that the Public Works Director Jay White did not need that much this year.  The city controller told council that there is a little flexibility should more funds be required as it could be taken from the road budget.

Municipal Courts sees an increase in their budget of about $50,000 to cover the cost of a new software program.  Jung explained that the current court software is no longer supported and claims it “is older than the court administrator”.

The Police Department shows a decrease of about $32,000.  Jung explained that there are increases in overtime pay, repairs and maintenance, and fuel while several one-time purchases included in last year’s budget are no longer included.  Jung also proposes abolishing the captain’s position explaining his feeling that it is not needed.  He feels the Chief, Sergeant, and Dispatch Supervisor are adequate to administer the department.  He also proposes moving the animal control responsibilities from the department explaining that officers can be better utilized than transporting a stray animal to Lake Jackson, as is current procedure.  Jung suggests that Code Enforcement assume that responsibility.  Member Adrian Gaspar was displeased with Jung’s plan to abolish the captain position and also expressed concern on future fleet requirements.  He requested the chief be available at the next meeting to discuss the issues before final decisions are made.  Member John Cox expressed his desire to somehow come up with the funds to provide another officer for patrol if at all possible.

Council will hold another workshop on Thursday, August 23 at 6PM to revisit the budget, giving members time to consider the proposal as submitted by the city manager.  A public hearing is scheduled for next Monday’s council meeting, August 27, at 7PM where citizen input is invited.

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