SNAP building plans discussed

The Sweetwater City Commission met for the first time in 2012 on Tuesday morning, Jan. 10 at City Hall.A variety of action items were presented at the meeting and approved, including the authorization of city staff to go out for bids relating to the construction of a new dining room and offices for SNAP, the senior nutrition program.City Manager Eddie Brown gave some background information on the current facility's condition, in that leaks have been seen when precipitation falls. Further inspections found that there were possible problems with the structure.The city's engineers have also looked at the building, and an engineering report stated that the "roof is unsafe" and that the facility should either be closed or demolished. For the time being, only box lunches are being given on Tuesdays and the activity room was closed following the holiday season. The approval to seek bids will now allow the city to determine their future process, as they have no current cost estimates. While the city hopes for a quick and inexpensive process, it was noted that it would be more costly to repair the building as is.In addition, two bids were opened and considered on three four-door patrol sedans for the police department. Following a review by city staff, the lowest bid--from Priority One Public Safety--was accepted and approved.A couple of action items regarding SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) were presented, such as the acceptance of private street dedication from the Sweetwater Business Park. The street was approved, but the name for the street was tabled for more consideration. The SEED board has presented Commerce or Commercial for a potential name.Also, the commission approved a resolution supporting the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind development. SEED Executive Director Ken Becker made a brief presentation noting that he will be meeting with senators and representatives in Washington, D.C. in February in regards to the matter through AWEA (American Wind Energy Association). Some appointments and reappointments were also approved in the meeting. Jo Thompson, Marvin Keenan, Don Brock and Dan McCoy were reappointed to the Cemetery Board, with Lewis Williams being appointed to replace Jack Aycock. Their terms will expire on Jan. 31, 2014.Approval was also given to ratify the appointment by the City Manager of Paul McCarthy to serve on the Civil Service commission. His term will also expire at the end of January 2014.Furthermore, approval was given to renew the McWhorter's Live Oak Lodge lease at Oak Creek Lake for a primary term of five years with a five year extension. Members of the McWhorter family were in attendance at the meeting and agreed to the arrangement.The commission also approved the second and final reading of an ordinance amending the approved and adopted budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year by adding one firefighter position to the fire department.The Quarterly Investment Report for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011 was read and also approved, as well as the minutes from the Dec. 13, 2011 meeting.In the City Manager's report by Eddie Brown, the State Comptroller's office confirmed that the increases in sales tax allocation payments received by the city from August to December 2011 were the result of direct pay by several businesses for materials being delivered inside city limits for major construction in the area.In addition, the audit report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2011 is being finalized and will be delivered at the Feb. 14, 2012 meeting. City staff will soon begin working on next year's fiscal budget.Also, the city has been notified by the Texas Department of Agriculture that they have received the Texans Feeding Texans grant for 2012 totaling $10,807.80. The county has assisted by offering $800 for the project.Furthermore, ambulance billings are down 42% for October and November. $90,000 has been transferred from the General Fund in order to cover expenses and should the trend continue, transfers for the year could be up 46% for a total of $540,000. A shortage of paramedics has led to this situation.City staff will also begin the process of removing the metal archway and entrance structure at Newman Park as it has become an eyesore. A new sign could potentially be tied into the SNAP construction project.Additionally, TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) has performed a speed study on Interstate 20, and the Texas Transportation Commission will consider those speeds on Jan. 26, 2012. The report concluded with the announcement that Ray Adames, the director of Public Works and Internal Services, will retire on Jan. 31, 2012 after 38 years of service. A retirement party in his honor will be held on that day from 3-4:30 p.m. at City Hall.