The Levelland City Council met Monday night for a regular meeting. At the beginning of the meeting the council held a public hearing on a zone change request for property on south highway 385 for a convenience store. the property is 6.25 acres of land located on the corner of Equalizer road and Highway 385 in front of the Oxy sports complex. Following comments from a number of citzens, the council met in executive session and then approved the zone change on a unanimous vote on a first reading. The full report from the meeting is below.
The council held a public hearing on the proposed tax rate. The council has proposed a tax ceiling of .78 cents per $100 propserty values. The effective rate which would raise the same amount of tax as this year is 75 cents per $100 property value. The tax ceiling is the highest rate the council will approve, they could approve a lower rate. No one made comment in the public hearing.
The council then held a public hearing on a zone change for property on south highway 385. The City of Levelland acquired 60 acres of land for the Levelland Oxy Sports complex. Half of the land is being used for the sports complex while the other half is currently being leased to a farmer for farming. Their is approximately 6.25 acres of land which is not needed for the Oxy sport complex. Their has been interest since 2014 for business interests on that property. Their has been a request by local businessman Chad Read for the property. The property is located on the corner of 385 and Equalizer Road.
During the public hearing, Cody Poage, spoke saying that he was bothered because no one would ever say what the 6 acres of land was for, quoting city representatives as saying “they would never sell.” He stated his business would be interested if the property was for sale. He also pointed out requirements for drilling a well. H.L. Shakespeare who lives on Ave. H near the property spoke next, He asked, when you go to a ball game, the parking lot is full and he is concerned about traffic saying, “we don’t need a truck stop.” He is opposed to the location, saying “this is a residential area and should be kept that way.” Ann Capps spoke, echoing remarks that Poage made saying that the city told voters they would not sell the property. She said “we want our homes to maintain their value.” She said we need more information on what is going in the location. Barry Thoms spoke saying that if the land is going to be sold, it should be sold in open bid, although, he stated he is in support of anything that would bring revenue to the community. Mary Shakespeare spoke saying she would be next door to the truck stop and no one wants to live next to a truck stop. She said “we do not want a truck stop next door to us.” Billy Mack Palmer spoke saying “we need truckers in Levelland, and we have five acres on highway 114 near Alamo, even noting that he has been asked to put one on that location. He also noted, the ball park generates money and he is feared that the additional traffic and safety hazards will cause people to not come to the ball park any longer. The Planning and Zoning Commission recently held a public hearing and is recommending that the property be rezoned. Chad Read, a Levelland businessman requesting the change spoke concerning the project. He said it is a convenience store which will make it more accessible for large trucks to get in and fuel up with diesel. He noted that the Mallet center hosts many rodeos and the participants have trailers that they need to be able to get in and out of a facility. It was noted that it is not a truck stop with parking, the store will not allow any overnight truck parking. He also stated that the facility would not be open 24 hours a day. It would be closed at night, the proposed hours are 6am to 10pm. He also said “I am local and we can work problems out.” Todd Lathem spoke saying he understood the concerns that people have, he also noted that it is hard to get trucks in and out of many locations in Levelland. He said “anytime we are talking about adding business to Levelland and bringing more revenue in I will support it.
Following a 50 minute executive session the council reconvened in open session. The council approved a motion to approve the zone change on the 6.25 acres of land to a Business 2 zone from Single family residential zone. It was approved on a unanimous vote on the first reading of the ordinance.
The council then held a budget work session. They discussed some of the court special funds. It was noted that many of those funds are governed by state law how they can be used. They do not generate much money and for 2017-2018 the city is not planning to have any expenditure out of those funds. They also discussed three special police funds, which the police chief has sole authority to authorize spending. Chief Albert Garcia spoke concerning the Law Enforcement Officer Safety fund. He said the city will have some funds allocated by the state this year for the fund. He also spoke concerning drug seizure funds from cases that the city’s drug officer assisted in.
It was also noted that recently, John Agnew has recently approached city management about aquiring the tractor and shredder which was built in to next years budget and they are needing to move those funds to this years budget and go ahead and purchase the tractor. Councilman Myatt questioned about contracting the mowing out and start charging homeowners more if the city has to mow it. It was noted that a lien will be placed on property but that does nothing unless a person tries to sell. It was noted that the city does contract some of it out. Councilman Max Ledesma, asked what part of town the weeds are the worst, the answer is all over town and Atmos Energy has compounded the problem in alleys in the University Heights area doing work on the gas lines in that area. Councilman Myatt expressed his frustration saying, “it is frustrating that the city is spending $36,000 on a tractor to mow other peoples grass.” Assistant City Manager Erik Rejino noted that the budget has been increased to fund for property clean up. Councilman Jim Myatt, said that property owners are going to see tax increase because of property values increasing, which is set by the Hockley County Appraisal District. He is not in favor of 78 cent tax rate. He wanted to know if budget could be cut and asked if city staff has talked to department heads. Rejino, pointed out that administration cut almost a million dollars from the budget before it was ever brought to council. He also noted that if the budget is cut any more, the council will have to make decision on cutting services. He used the two fire trucks which are in the budget as an example, noting, that recently 5 out of 12 of our fire trucks were out of service and if we do not purchase the fire trucks their would be an impact in fire protection for Levelland and Hockley County. Myatt noted that 65% of fire runs are in Hockley County and information is being gathered and a memo will be going to the Commissioners court to advise them of the situation. Myatt said, “I will not vote for this budget as it is being proposed.” The council will vote on the budget and tax rate September 11.