The Levelland City Council met Monday evening in a regular meeting. A full report of the meeting is below……
1) The city has been Working over the past several months to develop a video to showcase Levelland. It will be shown next week as the City hosts the Regional Meeting for the Texas Municipal League with over 200 other municipal officials from surrounding cities. Those contributing to the video included, City of Levelland, Covenant Hospital, Hockley County Mallet Event Center, Fire Angel Photography, Levelland Chamber of Commerce, Levelland ISD, Levelland Main Street Program, SPC and Steve Conway Photography.
2) Heard several requests for funding for the Hotel Occupancy Tax including:
a) In Room Directory for Best Western Motel–Promotion of events increasing overnight stays with one page advertisement for 2 years. Requested amount: $495. APPROVED
b) Babe Ruth Fast Pitch Girls State Tournament–June 28-30–new event, expecting 975-1000 guests including 25-30 teams. Expected to fill Levelland motels and overflow to Lubbock. Max Ledesma commented that City Parks are not ready for tournaments. Tournament officials and city parks officials will meet concerning this. Request: $5000 to pay host fee including housing expenses for regional and state officials, umpire fees and trophies. APPROVED
c) Thunder on the Plains Car Show–Expected attendance is 2000 however Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund (HOT) committee recommended that since it only generates low hotel room nights. Max Ledesma commented on condition of City Park–Rick Osburn pointed out that due to the recent storms it has taken man power away from park however it will be ready by August. Request $1000 HOT committee recommended $500 based upon room nights used past years. APPROVED
d) Lighthouse on the Plains Disc Golf Tournament–Asked for 2000–Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund committee recommended $500 due to past history on room night usage. APPROVED
3) Request to create an Event and Marketing Coordinator position to be funded from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund–Over the past decade Levelland has seen significant growth in local motel industry. This person would be responsible for promoting Levelland venues to host events and to track room nights generated by the events which is required by law. The HOT committee has discussed the need to have a staff member devoted to secure more events. This position will not show immediate results. The position would be part of the Chamber of Commerce and the city would contract with the chamber to provide the service–similar to the Main Street program. The estimated cost is $75,000 with salary being 30,000 to 35,000 including benefits. The person would be under the direct supervision of the Chamber director and the Coordinator would report to the City Council on a quarterly basis. The entire cost of the position would be paid for from Hotel Occupancy Tax funds. The person hired will be required to reside in Hockley County. APPROVED
4) The Levelland Main Street Advisory Board is requesting a minor change to the by-laws to allow citizens to serve longer on committees. Committees currently are limited to 7 members. They recommend increasing number to 9. Committee members would not have term limits as they have had in the past, 3 year term limits which is the same as board members. This would not effect board members. They would have to be re-appointed. A member of the audience questioned why there are members of the city council on Main Street committees. Main Street Director Missy Gore said that it helps the council members to know what is going on in the Main Street program. APPROVED
5) The council heard a request for an increase in funding of about $16,000 annually. This request has been endorsed by the Main Street Board of Directors and Levelland Chamber of Commerce. the position was changed over the years to a full time position. The Main Street Coordinator was a part time position until 2007 when it was upgraded to a full time position. Mary Siders was present at the meeting at gave an overview of what the Main Street program has done over the years from 1998-2013. This included updating businesses, farmers market upgrades, adding center street parking in downtown, numerous beautification projects in downtown, attracting new businesses to downtown, and bringing many events to downtown including Sounds of Texas, Ladies Night Out and etc. Current Main Street Director, Missy Gore will be leaving Levelland the end of July and is still working hard to make the position better than it was when she found it. Of cities the size of Levelland we have the lowest paid Main Street Director. Each year we are docked by the state due to salary of our Main Street Director. The Mayor stated that he is not opposed to the program, however, he would like to have it funded by the Hotel Occupancy Tax fund. Mary Siders said that legal counsel for Hotel Occupancy Tax funds said a portion of this increase could be paid by Hotel Occupancy Tax funds. The increase was approved.
6) The city also asked for authorization to purchase wood chipper and grinder. This is a piece of equipment that the city has to have with the new landfill, however with the recent storm and the large amount of trees blown down the city needs to aquire the equipment as soon as possible. City staff presented an overview on the development of the new proposed landfill. The estimated cost is 2 Million dollars with the bulk of that being in the actual cells in the landfill. The estimated cost for equipment is $845,000. Financing of the project could largely be done by Internal Financing Fund which should have an estimated balance of $1.8 Million by September of 2014. This is all money the city already has on hand. The General fund for the city as of 2004 was 2.3 million dollars, as of April of 2013 the fund is at 6.4 million. At the end of this fiscal year it is estimated to have 4.3 million dollars. A Good Sound Financial condition for a city is 4 months of operating which is 2.3 million for Levelland. The general fund will remain strong even after paying for equipment for landfill and other departments in the city. The net annual estimated cost to operate the landfill will be an estimated $176,447 which could mean an increase of 9.8% in garbage collection fees. The proposals received for chipper and grinder. The recommended one was for a unit with a Lubbock Dealer and could be delivered within 10-20 days so that staff could begin using it immediately to take care of limbs created by the recent storm. Mayor Waymon Jackson said the only thing wrong with our current unit is a shaft and bearing is out and estimated cost to get it repaired to A-1 shape is $2500, he does not think we need the new unit. Rick Osburn said that we would get the current one repaired and it could be used in town and the new one could be used at the new land fill so that you would not have to move them. Mayor proposes repairing current machine and not purchasing new one. The Mayor says the current machine will keep up with the limbs we generate. The city has tried to find a unit to lease for over a year and has not been able to. The city maintenance supervisor said there would be more parts required to get the unit back into operation for a long use. The mayor says with general maintenance the old machine can be worn for the same cost as the new one. Councilman Billy Youngblood pointed out that the new chipper was in the budget for the new landfill, he made motion to approve purchase of a new chipper/grinder and it was approved.
7) The council also heard discussing on a resolution regarding grant program through Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. It was learned that South Plains Community Action is currently involved in the program. Through this program SPCAA and City would partner to reconstruct 5-10 homes in Levelland. They request from the city to waive all building permit fees, provide assistance with building inspections, assist in administration of the program contract. All funds would be channeled through to SPCAA not the City. Benefits include safe homes for low income households, appraisal of property values for taxing entities and opportunity for local contractors to bid on housing projects. This is same program that the City of Smyer is working with the group on. It was pointed out that all building codes have to be met. Officials with SPCAA pointed out that they will work to ensure that work is top grade. APPROVED
8) Resale of Property…..The council reviewed a bid for resale of property at 310 West Ave. in Levelland. An individual made a bid of $500. The property currently has $5,868.95 due in back taxes. APPROVED
9) The council took action to approve the city to use a local general auction to dispose of surplus property. The money raised from the sale would go back into the city fund which initially paid for the property.
STATEMENTS BY CITIZENS—–
Butch Hilliard asked City Administration what was wrong with a dump truck that was replaced in the cemetery department. Hilliard said he does not know why the city is replacing equipment when the truck doesn’t have very many miles. It was noted that many of the tractors and trucks may not have many miles, because they are only used in town but they will have many hours of use, it was pointed out that the particular truck was on a pickup chassis and was not able to be used any longer with the large amounts of dirt being moved in the cemetery department. It will be used in another department and as a back-up truck. Mayor Waymon Jackson said he would NOT have voted to replace the truck with only limited miles saying it could still be used.