June 2013

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Newly elected Council Members sworn in

City receives annual financial audit & other city news

City Council Approves Water/Wastewater Impact Fee

City considers Master Drainage Plan

AISD planning new Manvel Junior High

Rodeo Palms development haulted

Former council member promotes his profession

 

Newly elected Council Members sworn in

June 5, 2013

 

Family and friends were on hand to witness Mayor Delores Martin swear in Melody Hanson and Lew Shuffler to city council, both of whom won reelection to their respective seats in last May’s election.

Hanson was unopposed in her reelection bid for Place 4 and will begin her fourth term on council. She is the longest serving member currently on council and was subsequently voted unanimously by her fellow members to serve as Mayor Pro tem. While largely an honorary title given to a senior member, Hanson would be called on to act on behalf of Mayor Martin should she for any reason be unable to tend to her duties.

Lew Shuffler will begin his second term in the Place 6 seat after defeating challenger Gary Garnett.

Council members due for reelection in 2014 will be John Cox for Place 3, Larry Akery for Place 5, and Mayor Delores Martin.

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City receives annual financial audit & other city news

June 5, 2013

 

Manvel city council received a report from financial auditors Whitley Penn at last week’s council meeting. The financial statements audited were for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2012. Auditors offered an unqualified opinion that the financial statements are presented fairly, which is the highest level of assurance given. No material weaknesses or compliance issues were revealed.

The city’s original 2012 budget was set to break even. But adjustments through the year saw about $516,000 in additional revenue due mostly to increased sales tax collections, and to a lesser degree licenses and permits, indicating continued growth in Manvel. Appropriations were actually overspent by $87,000 due to unforeseen increased expenditures in public works and capital outlays, but the good news, according to auditors, is that the city ended the year with revenues exceeding expenditures by more than $490,000. The year ending fund balance, or readily available assets, was just over $2 million.

Member Adrian Gaspar offered credit to the Mayor and City Manager saying they “assured the budget ran tight.” The mayor responded that she has run it like her checkbook, “if you didn’t have any money you couldn’t spend it.”

Council also held a discussion on the approval of a preliminary plat for the Lakeland subdivision that would allow them to begin planning for Phase Two. The new plat encompasses 53.10 acres which would accommodate 116 residential lots with a minimum 80 feet in width. Two homeowners have closed their sales and have taken occupancy in May, representing the first two occupied homes in Phase One of the project.

While the plat was approved, members asked the developer’s representative to consider altering the master plan to include additional green space. Member Adrian Gaspar told council that PD&Z expressed concern at a previous meeting that while the plan complies with city ordinances the allocated green space consists primarily of areas along easements and retention ponds that provide a minimum of 50 feet before a property line. Gaspar explained the issue is that sufficient space is not available for a small park that may have a play set or some other type of recreational equipment. He said residents would have to travel to one of the city parks to have access to such things.

Member Melody Hanson expressed her feeling that they “may be meeting the letter of the law but perhaps not the intent of the law.” She feels the intention of the law is to have a “square plot of grass where kids can run around and kick a ball.” “That many homes with that much space, from a mom’s standpoint, would concern me,” she said. She feels the developer could easily give up a couple of homes in order to accommodate a park.

A representative from Cervelle Homes indicated that consideration would be given to the request as the overall plan is still in the design phase. The development consists of six sections in total and it is possible that additional park space could be incorporated into the future plats.

Council also approved the appointment of Angela Vickerman and Mary Ann Shuffler to the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. The committee is charged with reviewing and updating the City’s Comprehensive and Thoroughfare Plans. Ordinances require the Plans be reviewed every five years. Public hearings will be announced and public input and participation is encouraged. Other committee members already appointed are Lorraine Hehn, Debbie Harrison, Jerome Hudson, Kyle Marasckin, Jason Rains, Brian Wilmer, Dorothy Wynne, Devon Jones, Pastor Steward Martin, and former council member Buddy Williams.

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City Council Approves Water/Wastewater Impact Fee

June 12, 2013

 

Manvel City Council approved the implementation of a Water/Wastewater Impact Fee to be placed on new home construction and on current homeowners who opt in to the city’s system.

The city’s consulting civil engineer, Dan Johnson, explains Impact Fees as a “way for a city to charge developers for some of the cost that new development places on the infrastructure and resources of a city.” In 2012 Johnson prepared a report that included an Impact Fee Study in conjunction with a Capital Improvement Plan and Land Use Assumptions. Report results showed the majority of improvements in the ten year period through 2013 to be in the SH 6 and FM 1128 corridors and will form the “backbone of an anticipated future integrated system that will ultimately serve a population well in excess of 100,000.”

A thorough analysis of projected population growth, corresponding increases in development, and the required infrastructure to support those assumptions are all part of the fee determination. The report defines the likely project costs for water projects, including interest expenses, to be $7.445 million. Wastewater projects are expected to be $2.175 million.

An industry standard table identifies a flow rate for a typical residential water meter and uses that rate as a basis for determining the actual impact of the development on the water and wastewater systems. The calculations determining the proposed fee structure is based on projected “equivalent service units” that will be added to the system. A single family residence is considered the “standard service unit” in the report. These costs and the resultant flow rates were then applied to the expected population and development growth resulting in a maximum recommended impact fee of $1,950 per equivalent service unit for water and $550 per equivalent service unit for wastewater.

Newly platted subdivisions will be subject to the assessment. An existing subdivision will be subject to the assessment on new homes constructed. An existing lot with no improvements or existing services would be subject to the assessment if improvements are constructed and inclusion to the city’s systems is desired. Existing homes currently served by individual wells and septic systems would be given an option to connect to city services for one year with the fee waived and an additional year with the fee assessed at 50%. Johnson explained that these properties would create an impact and should be assessed the fee. As Manvel’s City Attorney, Bobby Gervais, stated it, “if you are going to impact the water/wastewater system by adding new demand then you will be subject to the assessment.”

On new developments the fee will be assessed when the final plat is recorded. On an existing development, if platting is not required, the fee will be assessed when a building permit or utility connection is applied for. In either instance, the fees will be actually due and collected upon an occupancy permit being issued by the city. Gervais explained to council that in areas that are not currently served by the system, fees can be assessed but not collected only if the city does certain things. “State law requires a commitment by the city to start construction of the capital improvement project or facility expansion within two years and to be completed within five years,” he said. He clarified the intent of the fee saying “it is designed basically to charge users who are going to be adding to the impact of the system, making them pay for part of the cost of the capital improvements that are needed to get services that they can actually connect to and enjoy.”

There are exceptions to the assessment. Schools, churches, and government buildings will be exempt. Parks and construction trailers will receive a waiver from the fee. Additionally, houses and businesses obtaining additional meters for purposes of fire protection or lawn irrigation will not pay the impact fee. Changing an existing water meters will warrant an assessment only if the size is increased.

The Impact Fee is separate and apart from the meter and tap fee the city charges users connecting to the system. City Manager Kyle Jung also clarified that water and wastewater are the only impacts the city is assessing. Drainage and road impacts are other common assessments charged to users but they are not included in this ordinance.

Considerable discussion was had by council members in deciding whether or not to charge current homeowners a fee at all and if so what sort of grace period to provide. Previous discussion yielded the ultimately accepted plan that offers a one year waiver of the fee with a second year at 50%. Member Larry Akery felt that no fee should be charged at all expressing his feeling that the cost of installing the systems “probably came from taxes that the homeowner has been paying all these years, I think that is like double taxation.” Member Melody Hanson agreed with his sentiment commenting that “they have been paying for something they haven’t been utilizing.” She added that many current homeowners have larger lots with houses “often set back from the street so that the tap and meter fees will be pretty expensive as the service will have to be brought from the street to the house.” City service would include only the connection of the meter to the system. The running of pipe and connections from the meter are solely the responsibility of the homeowner.

Member Adrian Gaspar argued the other view that without an Impact Fee assessment the city would have little incentive to invest the money to provide the infrastructure and described it as “a loss to the city.” While expressing support for homeowner and property rights, Gaspar suggested an effort be made to find “a little bit of balance and do the best thing for the community.” Mayor Delores Martin feels that if a homeowner fails to make arrangements “to connect within a year, even if you give them five years, it will not make a difference.” Martin supports the fee saying “this is the future of Manvel; we can’t put our heads in the sand.”

The new ordinance passed with a 6-1 vote with Larry Akery the lone dissenter.

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City considers Master Drainage Plan

June 12, 2013

 

Manvel city council considered a proposal to prepare a high level Master Drainage Plan (MDP) for the city. A goal of the plan would be to provide a sub-regional detention pond design that would reduce the cost impact of drainage improvements by allowing future developments the possibility of sharing master planned detention facilities. Another goal would be to provide recommendations for the improvements in order to meet the city’s growth and future needs.

Most of the required data for the study will be provided by existing information from the City of Manvel and Brazoria County. Topographical maps and limited field reconnaissance will be used to assess current acreage for watershed conditions and various types of development potential and to determine existing and ultimate flood flows and water surface elevations. It will also estimate future drainage problem areas and determine alternatives to address existing and future flooding problems.

The city’s consulting civil engineer, Dan Johnson, is strongly in favor of the proposal telling council that having a reputable Plan prepared by a third party is “absolutely invaluable.” He went on to say that some of the problem areas identified in the Plan may lend themselves to remedy by the city’s Public Works department, items such as culverts and pipes. “Even better,” he says, “as the developers come in we can get them to fix the problems for us.”

Mayor Delores Martin told council that the Plan would “be another important tool for us to use in the city’s Comprehensive Plan.” City Manager Kyle Jung agreed, characterizing it as a self-contained unit that would become a significant part of the city’s planning process.

The preliminary proposal recommended a lump sum payment of $50,000. The estimated time for completion would be four months from contract execution and available reports, studies, and data. It is expected council will have a contract to discuss and take action on in a future meeting.

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AISD planning new Manvel Junior High

June 19, 2013

 

The Alvin Independent School District (AISD) Board of Trustees approved a funding request at its June meeting that indicates a start to a new Junior High School project in Manvel that will be ready for students in the 2015-2016 school year. The proposed site is land already owned by the District that comprises the north end of the Manvel High School property.

Recent demographic reports indicate the District will experience a considerable deficit of seats at the Junior High level in coming years with the need primarily on the west side of the District. The new facility will serve to relieve that deficit in serving Manvel and surrounding areas. To meet the aggressive two-year timeline, AISD Building Program administrators requested funding of $1,162,140 in order to begin partial architectural services and other pre-construction processes. In making the request, administrators indicated that the design process must begin in June so that the permitting process can commence in October 2013.

The property will accommodate the same design the District has used in recent Junior High facilities, including the Rodeo Palms campus that opened just this last school year. Being able to utilize the same design with only slight modification allows the timeline to be met and will serve to save funds that otherwise would be required for design services.

Pat Miller, AISD’s Director of Building Programs, explained the idea of sharing the current High School site came about from design conceptualization on the new High School 3 that will be built in the Pearland area of the District in coming years. He explained that discussion on where parking is established, how drives are used, and the placement of athletic fields and detention facilities led to the realization that with a few changes the Manvel High School site would be able to accommodate a junior high campus.

Miller went on to explain that the two campuses located adjacent to one another “creates synergy and student/family benefits.” He clarified that “both schools will have the full complement of stand-alone facilities.” He said the added traffic on McCoy should not pose a problem as the operating hours of the two schools are “staggered by one hour eliminating concerns for traffic conflict.” “A commissioned traffic engineering study recognized this fact,” he said.

In furtherance of moving the project forward, the Board also authorized District building officials to proceed with the Construction Manager at Risk process for the new Junior High project. This alternate delivery method was recommended because it will better serve the District due to the greater flexibility needed for the limited available construction time between school years. According to Jeff Couvillion, the District’s Director of Building Services, the alternate procurement method is being requested due to “shortened time lines, budget challenges of an expanding construction market, and logistical issues associated with working on an occupied campus.”

Competitive bidding will occur among sub-contractors but the General Contractor will be approved by the Board with a set fee for General Conditions, Construction Manager Fee (includes overhead/profit) and Pre Construction Services (time spent with design team helping to prepare construction documents). As Couvillion explains it, the Construction Manager at Risk contractor, “to a greater level than other contracting methods, becomes a team member earlier in the project and is responsible for keeping the project in budget, on schedule.” The approval of funding and the award of a contract will be brought before the Board at a later date.

AISD Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent explained that finding a suitable site in Manvel proper had become a challenge. “With some modifications to how we use the facilities and modifications to the Manvel High School campus we feel like putting Manvel Junior High in back of Manvel High School is going to be a perfect fit. The buildings that we are already using for Junior Highs do fit so we are not having to re-design a whole new school. We will save money there and on land acquisition. We think it will be a great place for Manvel to have its Junior High back.” He also said “a lot of things have to happen before that but we are growing so fast that we need a new Junior High.”

The District lacks sufficient capital to fund the construction of the school adding to the likelihood of a bond referendum being placed before voters this November. The Board of Trustees will hear from a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) this summer with recommendations on the issuance of a bond proposal and the capital items to be included.

Regarding other facility improvements, The Board approved the final $3,057,735 for the balance of funding for its Elementary School #15 which currently is under construction and slated to be available for use beginning the 2014-2015 school year. The campus is located on the south side of CR 59 in Manvel’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) just east of Kirby Drive. $14,322,265 has been funded to date so that the total project cost, excluding land and design fees, will be $17,380,000. Items remaining to be funded include technology services; furniture, fixtures, and equipment; maintenance and operations; and off-site civil work to install appropriate turn lanes and traffic signal devices.

In preparation of the new High School to be constructed in Pearland, a Memorandum of Understanding was authorized to be executed with the City of Pearland regarding the platting of the future High School #3 site near the intersection of Broadway and Kirby Drive in Pearland. The approximately 72 acre site is located on the southeast side of the intersection. According to District officials, “one of the final platting hurdles is to create an understanding as to who would fund the necessary road improvements called for in Alvin ISD’s Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA). Traditionally, the school district would build roads, access lanes, and traffic control to provide safe access to and from the school campus. The TIA expressed the need for the installation of turn lanes and signalization of the intersection created by our future campus drive onto Broadway. It also addressed the need for turn lanes and signalization of the intersection created by the future campus drive that will be located on Kirby Dr.” Funding for the High School is likely to be part of a bond proposal that the Board of Trustees will consider later this summer. If a bond referendum is authorized it will be put before voters this November.

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Rodeo Palms development haulted

June 26, 2013

 

Manvel city council approved the first of two readings of an ordinance that would provide a moratorium on property development within the boundaries of Municipal Utility District (MUD) #29, which serves the Rodeo Palms subdivision. The formal action was expected after the MUD’s attorney addressed council in May regarding the construction of a new water well to service the development. Council was told then that capacity remained for “maybe a couple dozen taps to be connected”.

The existing wells have not produced at the capacity they were designed for resulting in a struggle for the MUD to increase water capacity. The new well is expected to “take care of all the water needs throughout the complete build-out of the development.” In case of an emergency disruption in water supply the MUD has arranged for an alternate source of water with neighboring MUD 21, which serves Savannah Lakes, through a system interconnect.

In explaining the moratorium, City Attorney Bobby Gervais said the MUD must “provide essential public facilities to citizens of Manvel who live within MUD 29.” In this case, Gervais went on, “the city became aware of a critical shortage on the production of water capacity that can be provided by MUD 29 because the water well is not performing correctly.” The city was informed by the District’s attorney and the District’s engineer. The limited capacity was verified by the city’s own engineer who also was involved with the determination. “Because there is not water capacity to service any more property development from MUD 29 at this time, we are going ahead with the moratorium with a Public Hearing on July 1 for the Planning, Development, & Zoning Commission (PD&Z) and on July 5th for city council. Upon the second reading the moratorium will be effective in preserving the status quo by not accepting applications for Certificates of Occupancy, development permits, or plats for land located within the boundaries of MUD 29 until such time that MUD 29’s Board of Directors can certify in writing that additional capacity is secured.” The moratorium is valid for 120 days at which time council will need to repeat the process.

Council’s authorization of the plan last May was the final action required for construction to commence. It is projected to require at least one year for the well to be brought on-line.

In a light agenda, council also discussed the Impact Fee ordinance that was passed at a previous meeting. The discussion was prompted by Member Adrian Gaspar who requested clarification on whether the ordinance applies to homeowners already located on a city water/sewer line. City staff was directed to determine the number of properties situated that way so that a determination can be reached at the next council meeting on whether or not those homeowners will be subject to the same terms as spelled out in the ordinance regarding payment of the fee. The ordinance grants existing homeowners one year to connect with no impact fee assessed and a second year with the fee at 50%. Subsequent years will be subject to the full fee amount. The issue concerns only the new Impact Fees as all users are subject to a tap fee, which is the installation of the meter and executed by the city, and any additional piping to deliver the service from the meter to the home, which would be borne by the homeowner.

Gaspar said he was under the assumption that current homeowners could hook up for free. City Manager Kyle Jung explained the intent of the Impact Fee ordinance being for “anybody that newly impacts the system and generally directed toward new construction and for an existing house that has a new line installed in front of it. Jung said it would be a council decision if they want to provide Impact Fee reductions to users already on an existing city water/sewer line. Gaspar feels it unfair to not grant the reduced rates and would consider it a “courtesy to our residents to give them the same opportunity as if we installed a new water line.” He proposed sending letters to all existing homeowners explaining their option to take advantage of the fee discounts.

Member Larry Akery wants people to know that they have the ability to take advantage of the Impact Fee discount by paying the tap fee to have a meter installed and then “lock it off so that there would be no billing from the city but you would be prepared and ready in case your well doesn’t work, or whatever, so that all you have to do then is run the waterline to the house and then you start your bill.” Jung feels the city should not encourage that because “what you are doing is creating a whole lot of openings in the water mains that eventually could weaken and create leaks if there is just a meter and a curb stop” and is not being used for ten or more years. Jung told council that there are areas of the city that have old substandard pipes in the ground and that he would not like to punch a lot of holes in those if not necessary.

Jung went on to say that “the city wants and needs as many utility customers as possible to pay for the infrastructure. Even if they kept their wells for agricultural use, or for livestock or ponds or watering the grass, or whatever else, as long as there is not a cross-connection between their well and the city’s system they can continue to use their water well for as long as it works.” Jung said “the city does not want to have individuals buy meters and forget about it. That is not doing the city any good as it fails to generate any revenue for the city and does not pay for the infrastructure that must be available to service the number of meters on the line.” Jung elaborated that “if everybody in the city acquired a water meter and nobody used it, we still would have to provide the capacity to provide water to those meters.”

Member Melody Hanson said she “always considered Impact Fees being for future growth. Because the existing system cannot fund itself, due to insufficient customers, essentially everyone who lives in Manvel is currently subsidizing the system. So they have been paying for a system that they are not hooked up to all these year.” She feels they are getting “shafted a little bit” by now having to pay another fee to connect.

Jung explained Manvel as an “odd situation that the vast majority of people in town are on wells and septic systems.” He said it is “kind of the opposite of what happens in many cities where there is very little impact on existing homeowners because they are required to connect.” Jung favors encouraging users to tie on and to actually use the service. The city currently has only about 170 utility customers.

Council will take action on the matter at the next council meeting.

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Former council member promotes his profession

June 26, 2013

 

Former Manvel city council member Mack Ivy recently returned from a conference in Turkey where he was an invited speaker at the 1st Turkish Occupational Therapy Congress. Ivy described it as an “awesome honor to have an all-expense paid trip to inspire Turkish students about the great opportunities they will have in that very important and fragile region of the world.”

Haceteppe University in Ankara will see their first ever Occupational Therapists graduate in 2014. Ivy explains his occupational therapy (OT) profession as “not requiring a million dollar machine or chemical; the essence of true OT is to find the barriers to function and overcome them with adaptations, equipment and education to maximize a person's ability to engage in the activities that are most meaningful to them and allow them to participate with family and friends so that they can live each day to its fullest. It is both an art and science that requires attention to the physical, cognitive and psychosocial factors that inhibit a patient from feeling like a person.” Ivy focuses primarily on patients facing their end of life and it was his recognized work in that area that motivated the invitation to speak.

Ivy considers Turkey an ideal place to influence the practice of the OT profession. As he describes it, “Turkey is what some would call the center of the Earth because the country is located on both the European and Asian continents. I was told that occupational therapy (OT) was becoming more popular in Turkey and Iran because we address the whole person (body, mind/cognition and spirit/psychosocial) with issues that impact the region due to war including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and due to pre-mature births (due to a mother's stressors during conflict) and other injuries that decrease more than physical abilities.” He is confident that the new graduates will spread what they will learn “to their neighbors in Iran, Iraq, Syria and beyond because of their efforts to help those in need.”

The Executive Board of the World Federation of Occupational Therapy asked Ivy to write a position statement for the organization about occupational therapy with those facing the end of life. Ivy had previously completed the position statement for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). He has been invited to future Congresses in Turkey as well as a conference in India and Saudi Arabia next year. He says he also has been encouraged to run for a position on the World Federation’s Executive Board.

Widespread protests were occurring in the country during his visit. He witnessed chanting student flooding streets and low-flying helicopters dropping tear-gas grenades. Ivy relates the mood of the protesters: “Various students told me that the will of the people is to return to the original constitution of 1921 that was promoted by the Ataturk or "Father of the Turks" where the people were free to choose their own religion, women did not have to cover themselves as other Muslim countries require and that the people have a right to vote for the laws that affect them.”

Ivy reflected on his experience, saying “overall it was no doubt a trip of a lifetime and I am forever grateful to God who opened the doors and to the gracious hosts in Turkey that welcomed me with open arms who allowed me to share the message of the true power of occupational therapy.”

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