By A.C. Hall
After winning the November election, incoming council member Steve Ott was sworn in Tuesday night at the White Settlement City Council meeting. Ott thanked everyone for voting and spoke of the importance of local elections. He also encouraged anyone with questions or suggestions to contact him. A brief reception was held, then Ott took his place with the rest of the council members.
Mutual Aid agreement renewed
The council voted unanimously to approve a renewal of the mutual aid agreement with Tarrant County. This agreement sees Tarrant County pay the city $7,500 annually in order to be able to call on White Settlement emergency services in case the need arises.
Ott asked if there was a mileage limitation to how far outside the city White Settlement personnel and equipment would go. He was informed that it could be anywhere within Tarrant County, but that consideration was always first given to emergencies within city limits. Ott was also told that aid given was dependent on availability of resources, and that some emergency vehicles were always kept behind in case they were needed within White Settlement.
Park and Recreation board discussion removed
Council member Mike Arnold requested the next item be placed on the agenda, and it called for the council to “discuss and take action with respect to Park and Recreation Board.” Citizen Bobby Adian put in a request to speak on this item, and questioned why it was so vague.
“There’s nothing that is a detail on what you’re going to take action on,” Adian said.
Adian contended that if the council is going to take action on something, the agenda should at least describe what it is.
Arnold and Adian had a contentious back and forth about this, with Arnold saying this wasn’t meant to be an action item. City Secretary Amy Arnold said the agenda said “discuss and consider” because that is a standard phrase used before all new business. Adian’s contention to this was that it still left open the possibility of action being taken by council.
Council member Arnold and Adian continued to go back and forth, with Adian saying he felt like Arnold was making it personal against him as the two discussed the matter.
“If you want to discuss any of it after, Bobby, I’ll be right here,” Arnold stated.
Nothing proceeded on this item as Arnold said he had asked to remove it from the agenda.
Water fees from Fort Worth put into effect
Another item of business before the council was water and wastewater impact fees from Fort Worth. Before discussion on this began, Adian had also requested to speak on the agenda item and was given the floor.
Adian questioned why no ordinance number was given for the item on the agenda. The agenda indicates that an ordinance number will be assigned if the item passes, and Adian asked why this change was made, saying knowing ordinance numbers helps citizens.
Council member Elzie Clements joined with Adian as he too questioned why it was being done this way now. He was answered by the City Secretary.
“In going through the ordinance book and looking, there’s a lot of ordinance numbers that are skipped,” Amy Arnold explained. “It’s just to bring order to our records.”
City Manager Linda Ryan suggested having the list of ordinance numbers readily available so a number can be assigned right at the meeting once an ordinance gets passed. Everyone seemed to feel this was a good fix.
Moving on to the actual item, Ryan explained that these fees are passed down from Fort Worth, and all money collected from these fees goes straight to Fort Worth. The reason the fee applies in White Settlement is because the City’s water gets treated by Fort Worth.
“This is something we can’t avoid,” Ryan said.
These impact fees are charged to all new services, not to existing ones.
“It doesn’t hurt the citizens that are already here and already have their water,” Ryan said.
She did say that the good news was that while the wastewater impact fee went up, the water impact fee went down and when combined it comes to a total decrease of 5.5%.
The council voted unanimously to approve the change to the fees.
Board appointments tabled
The final four items on the agenda were all pertaining to appointments and reappointments to the Board of Adjustment and Appeals. Before discussions began, Adian was given the floor since he also requested to speak on this item.
Adian stated that it was customary for newly elected officials to get a chance to nominate someone to boards, and since a runoff election was underway, he felt it would be the right thing to do to postpone these items until the results of the election were known.
Ott also voiced a concern about these items.
“We cannot properly evaluate the candidates that have submitted applications,” Ott said. “On the back of all the applications there is a portion that says a background check, and all of them are pending.”
Ott stated that if they appoint people before the background checks are done and then the check comes back and says they’re unqualified, it would cause more work to have to then remove those people from the boards.
Clements added his voice to the discussion, saying he agreed with Ott.
“I don’t know why we want to appoint them if the background check hasn’t been done on them,” Clements said.
Mayor Burns stated that he didn’t have a problem waiting for the background checks to get finished. A motion was then made to postpone the four items relating to board members and that motion passed by a vote of 4 – 1, with Hatcher dissenting.
Currently appointed members to the Board of Adjustment and Appeals will continue to serve until council action is taken on this matter.
At the request of White Settlement Police Chief Jack Ely, the council voted unanimously to approve non lighted school zone signs be put up on Wyatt Drive from 7900 to 8000.
Building Official Kyle Reeves gave a brief presentation about some success stories related to the residential certificates of occupancy. Reeves showed several before and after photos of properties whose owners went above and beyond the requirements of the certificates in order to improve and beautify their properties.
Reeves also spoke about his belief that the inspections are contributing to fewer fires, as they find certain types of hazards and help get them taken care of before they cause fires.