The Houston City Council accepted a proposal for the purchase of a camera system for the new community center/police headquarters at their regular meeting December 12. The setup will include a fully wireless system with our cameras on the outside of the building as well as two cameras inside. The package will cost $3,504.93 and will provide the needed security for the building.
Councilman Tony Schultz suggested the possibility of adding another camera to cover the fest grounds as well. He felt funding might be available from the Hoedown Committee for such a camera.
Councilman Cody Mathers added that he felt this would be a good time to look at other camera needs throughout the city as well. He felt that savings might result from this rather than adding other cameras piecemeal in the future. Police Chief Brett Hurley will follow up with the company to check on the possibility.
2023 final budget approved
After holding the truth in taxation prior to the beginning of their regular meeting at which no citizens spoke or asked any questions, the council moved forward to approve the 2023 final budget. The levy for the city in 2023 increased by 3% for a total levy of $565,250.
The COLA increase for all city employees was set at 4.3%; this was made possible by a savings in health care services.
Water rates for 2023 were set with the base charge of $14.00 and an additional per 100 gallons rate of $0.92. The sewer rate remains unchanged with a base rate of $22.88 and an additional use rate per 100 gallons for users of 0–1,500 gallons of zero and of $0.81 per 100 gallons for users of 1,600–999,999 gallons.
ABC, which does janitorial work for the city for three hours four days a week, raised the rate for services from $14.44 to $22.66 for next year. Well pleased with the work of ABC, the council chose to continue with ABC. Savings from the 2022 budget will be carried forward to cover the increase in expense.
Fire Chief Steve Skifton and Assistant Fire Chief Jay Wheaton were reappointed to lead the fire department for the next two years.
The Nature Center has hired a new assistant, Isabella Millen. Isabella will join another high school student in working at the center to provide HNC lead John Langheinrich time to work on larger projects at the center.
Based on anticipated action of the Houston County Board on December 13, the council approved having Police Chief Brett Hurley begin a search for a new full-time police officer for the city.
In other business the council:
• Approved a gambling permit for DLC for a charity event to benefit the summer fireworks;
Set the community center as its designated polling place for 2023;
• Accepted a letter of understanding for auditing to be done by SmithSchafer;
• Agreed to the proposed Business Health Services Fee schedule for any needed services for the coming year;
• Adopted a resolution certifying delinquent city bills;
• Authorized City Administrator Michelle Quinn and Mayor David Olson to act on the city’s behalf in signing purchase agreements and closing documents for the sale of the old community center building; the sale could be completed by year’s end;
• Heard that ARPA funds would be used beginning in January to line sewers on Cedar Street;
• Learned from Marlene Schultz that Krin Abraham would be taking over her position as a representative on the Root River Towns Board.
To close the council meeting, Cody Mathers expressed his thanks to outgoing council members Tony Schultz and Cheryl Sanden and Mayor David Olson for their service. Mathers commented, “I appreciate you — you did what you thought was right. This is not a glorious job; you’re usually stuck between two bad choices!” The city presented certificates of appreciation to each of the three.
The next regular meeting of the Houston City Council will be January 9, 2023 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at city hall. The public is welcome to attend; a public comment period is provided at the end of the meeting.
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