by A.C. Hall
Several bookkeeping issues were present on the White Settlement City Council agenda for Tuesday night. One of these issues was the voluntary donation on citizens’ water bills. The bill states that this donation is for the library, city parks, and the animal shelter. However, the ordinance behind this donation program was never changed to include the animal shelter.
City Manager Jim Ryan addressed this as the council looked to fix the oversight.
“Basically, the water bill for the last seven or eight years, it says your dollar donation is split between the park, the library, and the animal control, but that was just on the water bill,” Ryan said, going on to say that the ordinance didn’t echo this.
One thing that made this issue less troublesome to fix is the fact that none of the money that has been donated has ever been spent. There is over $11,000 in the account that citizens have donated over the years, and it was stated several times that that money has never been touched.
Council member Danny Anderson asked who would be in charge of this fund. The wording in the ordinance put the final control in the hands of council, but several members of the council stated that such a small fund could easily be managed by the City Manager.
A motion was made to approve the new ordinance that makes the animal shelter an official part of the donation program as well as names Ryan the controller of this fund. That motion passed unanimously. The money in the fund will be split evenly between the library, city parks, and the animal shelter, but any expenditures out of it must have Ryan’s approval.
Another fund addressed by council was a set of two endowment funds that were set up by council in 2002 for the senior center and for the library. After the first few years, these funds stopped receiving annual contributions from council, leaving a balance of $28,200 for the senior center fund and $33,100 in the library fund. The issue facing council is that these funds can’t be spent until they reach at least $100,000 each.
Finance Director Phil Bray addressed this item.
“It is clear that these endowments are not serving the purpose for which they were set up,” Bray said.
The recommendation made to council was to terminate the funds and return the money back to the general fund where it originated. A motion was made to do that exact thing. The motion passed unanimously.
One final bookkeeping issue addressed was the city’s paying agent. This entity handles the distribution of the city’s annual debt payments. When the city takes out debt, it is often bought in pieces by several different people. Instead of cutting checks to each person, the city sends one check to a paying agent who takes a fee and then distributes the money to all who own the debt.
Bray presented council with an option to switch paying agents. He stated that this change would save the city over $10,000 over the next twenty years. After some discussion about the wording of the documents, a motion was made to approve the new paying agent. That motion passed unanimously.
WATER SYSTEM VIOLATION ADDRESSED
Robert Smith addressed the council on this next item as he discussed a recent comprehensive audit done by TCEQ on White Settlement’s water system. The city received a violation for failure to provide a sanitary control easement or city ordinance for the wells.
Smith addressed this, saying it’s likely not that the city doesn’t have the easements, it’s a matter of proving they have them.
“We probably have the easements, we just can’t find the documents,” Smith told the council.
Since the documentation for the well easements can’t be located, before council was a different option to handle the violation. Council voted unanimously to approve a new ordinance to establish sanitary controls for water wells. This new ordinance resolves the violation and returns the city to full compliance with TCEQ.
One citizen spoke during the public comments section of the meeting. This citizen called attention to the faded or nonexistent lane and divider marks on several major roadways in White Settlement. The citizen stated this makes driving very dangerous and voiced their hope that new markings will be put down on these streets that are lacking them.
Mayor White’s monthly mayor forum will be abbreviated this Saturday due to Settlers Day activities. The forum will still be held at the library, but will run from 10:00 a.m. until noon so the Mayor can attend the Settlers Day festivities.