Council discusses background checks for city board members

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Note: This is a continuation of last week’s council meeting. Read part 1 by scrolling down the page.

By A.C. Hall

Another of the items discussed by the White Settlement City Council at their meeting on Jan. 8 was whether or not to require background checks for those applying to serve on city boards. This item originates from the Dec. 11 meeting, when council member Steve Ott drew attention to the fact that applicants for boards had not yet had background checks run on them despite there being a section for such on the application itself.  This led to those board appointments being tabled, and on Jan. 8 City Marshal Jeff James ask a simple question of the council.

“Do you or do you not want to do background checks?” James asked.  The council then discussed the issue of how much these checks would cost.  A public domain background check was reported as being free to run, but it is limited in what it can find.

Some of the council members questioned why background checks are necessary.

“Most everybody on this council pretty well knows who they’re going to put on a board,” council member Elzie Clements said.  “It’s not like that we’re just gonna go out and pick somebody out of the clear blue sky.”

He continued with his point that council members will have good knowledge about the people they are nominating.  Clements also mentioned that background checks aren’t done on those who run for council.

Ott stated that if background checks aren’t going to be run on board applicants, then that section needs to be removed from the board applications.

New council member Danny Anderson brought up the Parks Board, which could see board members working around children.  This led to a discussion about checking the sex offender database for anyone who will be on boards that may put board members in the vicinity of children.

As the conversation continued, disqualifying people who have domestic violence issues was also something considered.

Eventually, the council unanimously passed a motion that would see basic background checks going back five years and a sex offender check run on all board applicants.  The motion also instructed Marshal James to put  together further details on what items in the checks will disqualify applicants.

Street repairs

This item was placed on the agenda at the request of Anderson, who said one of the first things citizens ask new council members is about the state of the streets.

Robert Smith of the Public Works department addressed the council on this issue.

“We are diligently trying to repair potholes and work on the streets,” Smith said.

One major item Smith highlighted was the overlay program that Tarrant County runs.  This interlocal program sees the county assist with overlaying streets, but according to Smith the county is behind schedule as they’ve been caught up with a big project.  It has set their overlay program behind by almost a year, but the county is expected to resume work on streets in White Settlement later this month.

Smith also spoke about the need to be smart about which streets get repaired, as there remain many infrastructure issues underneath the streets.  The folly of fixing a street that has faulty infrastructure just to have to come back and tear up the street to fix things below it was discussed.

Funding for infrastructure repairs was briefly mentioned by City Manager Linda Ryan.

“With debt falling off, now would be a good opportunity to do some bonds,” Ryan said.

Community Development Block Grant project selected

For the next CDBG project, the council unanimously selected the sewer main in Ozona Avenue from Longfield to Abbot and the sewer main in Collett Drive from Ozona to South Grants Lane.  This came from the suggestion of Project Manager Jack Bell, who spoke about the area.

“We’ve had numerous problems with that area,” Bell said.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $199,600.  CDBG money from Tarrant County will account for $115,000, leaving White Settlement responsible for $84,600.

The CDBG program has been running for 39 years, but Bell cautioned the council that from now on it will likely change.  The program will only fund local projects every other year, instead of every year.

Prior to taking action on this item, the council held a public hearing on the matter.  With no one present wishing to speak, the public hearing was closed.

Other Business

The City received two awards for the finance department.  Both the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award and the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting were given to the city.  Ryan mentioned that the city has been receiving both awards for over two decades now.  Council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Fort Worth for the purpose of having high water warning signs installed at North Las Vegas Trail and Shoreview.  This will be done at no cost to the city.

Council member  Mike Arnold volunteered to be a representative for the council on the Regional Coordination Committee, a group of local municipalities that meets to discuss compatibility issues around the base.  Economic Development Director Jim Ryan is also a city representative on the RCC.

A motion unanimously passed that will allow council members and one guest, along with senior staff members, to attend the upcoming Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.  Tickets cost $35 each, and it was stated that the money to pay for the tickets is in the budget.

Public Comments

Bobby Adian addressed the council regarding the minutes of a recent meeting during which he spoke.  Adian voiced his belief that the minutes were incorrect in how they portrayed an agenda item he had spoken about.  He said he felt there were multiple violations that had taken place in how things regarding the item were handled.

The council went on to unanimously pass the minutes Adian was speaking about without making any changes to them.

Later in the meeting, Daniel Bennett addressed the council.  Bennett spoke about his ongoing issues with Oncor as he attempts to have them take care of some work on his property.  Bennett praised Project Manager Bell for his ability to work out good deals between the City and Oncor, saying it wasn’t an easy thing to do.