Levelland City Council held a regular meeting Monday night.
The council canvassed the election results for the District A election which was held November 3rd. Jim Myatt received 306 votes, Pete Cunningham received 179 votes and Billy Youngblood received 174 votes. Their will be a runoff held between Jim Myatt and Pete Cunningham.
The runoff election for District A will be held December 15th. Early voting will begin 11/30/2020 and run through 12/11/2020.
The council also heard a report from the Animal Services Task Force. Police Chief Albert Garcia presented results from the task force. One item which has been addressed is now being able to get in touch with someone at the shelter in regards to adoptions. A phone has now been installed at the shelter and is manned when someone is at the shelter. It was also noted that personal information was being on kennel cards, the shelter will now have numbers and basic information for the dogs and the Levelland Animal Friends will have a card with a name for each dog. There will also be a signup form for volunteers for the shelter and the department will track volunteers. It was noted that volunteers are absolutely necessary to run the shelter. When a dog is adopted the department will be putting a micro chip in each dog which will help in finding the home where the dog belongs when a dog is found running loose. There are some changes being made to the procedures for the shelter. The task force made recommendations to the council, Michael Wiiest chaired the task force. He noted that a lot of what the group worked on is volunteer guidelines and duties. It was recommended that a system be put in place for training for volunteers as well as specific duties as directed by the Animal Control Officers. It was noted that the task force wants to see the rescue rate go up and the euthanasia rate go down. Chair Michael Wiiest noted that volunteers must be 17 years of age unless they have parental guidance. The group will also be looking closely at what can be put in place through ordinances to make sure that every dog adopted from the shelter will be current on shots and will be spayed and neutered. Wiiest, said we need a good volunteer base and will be working to recruit more volunteers. Another member of the task force, John Dupree spoke as well. He noted that the idea of a task force was created by him and another volunteer, Jill Pitts concerning things that were occurring at the shelter. He noted that Jill Pitts actually requested the task force to take a look at issues presented by the volunteers. He spoke and stated that he felt Jill would have had an opportunity to speak during the task force meetings. Dupree thanked the directors of the shelter for coming up with a solution to allow the animal friends group to have their own kennel cards. Dupree noted that for over a year, the public could not reach an animal control officer directly until the department installed a phone at the shelter. Dupree noted that Levelland Animal Friends raises money to pay for healthcare of animals picked up by the shelter and he noted that the Animal Control Officers would take them until summer of 2019 when they ended the practice, the Levelland Animal Friends group would need to take sick or injured animals in, he says that is not always possible. Wiiest noted we have to get “legislation with teeth in it to make sure animal welfare is a priority.” The city attorney will be looking into a possibility of a spay and neuter ordinance and other ordinances. Councilwoman Breann Buxkemper said “I don’t think people know they can volunteer at the shelter and a campaign is needed to get additional volunteers.”
The council discussed the need for a spay and neuter ordinance. It was noted that people who adopt an animal sign an agreement that they will have the dog spayed or neutered. City Attorney Matt Wade spoke to the council saying that their are options including a deposit when a dog is adopted and when it is spayed or neutered they can get the deposit back. He said currently the Health and Safety code of the city has the option to order a dangerous dog to be spayed or neutered. Wade also said their is more that can be done if an animal is picked up numerous times by the animal control. He said currently on the third time, the fee to get a dog back increases, he says that the city could put a much steeper increase in place for repeat offenders. Councilman Jim Myatt said, “I think we need to make the deposit large enough when a dog is adopted that the person would have incentive to get the dog spayed or neutered.” Mayor Barbara Pinner said it is concerning that if you make the deposit too high then the person would not adopt out of this shelter. The attorney also noted that through ordinances city’s can limit the number of dogs or cats a person can have.
The council also discussed COVID-19 numbers in Hockley County. The council extended the city’s disaster declaration to stay in line with the Governor’s order. It was noted that many people have questioned what additional closures could be coming, City Manager, Erik Rejino said, the Governor has not addressed any additional closures at this time. Rejino reminded everyone to wear their mask and follow safe sanitation practices. Councilman Max Ledesma said their are too many people not wearing masks, “we have to take responsibility for ourself.” It was noted that the local Covenant Hospital has expanded their COVID capacity as the state sent additional nurses and staff to assist. The council approved the updated resolution to extend the disaster declaration to stay in line with the Governor’s order.
The council also approved a resolution to allow the city manager to execute an agreement with Levelland ISD to provide assistance under the Coronavirus Relief fund. It was also noted that the city should be able to expend their entire allotted amount for eligible expenses. The funds for Levelland ISD will be used to assist with the purchase of I-Pads and Chromebooks. The resolution was approved on a unanimous vote.
The council also took action to approve submission of an application to the Events Trust Fund through the Texas Governor’s Office for possibility of bringing the 2021 NJCAA Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship in May, 2021.
The council also took action to approve the playground project at the George C. Price Park. The Levelland Community Development Corporation Board has recommended moving forward with the project and has authorized $50,000 for the project. The project will replace the current playground at the park.
The council also took action to approve City Park improvements including two new playgrounds, three new metal 24 x 60 pavilions, new trees, construction of water well, regulation basketball court, Irrigation and a new Restroom facility. Improvements come at a total cost of $675,000. The LCDC had originally appropriated $500,000 for the project and has agreed do an additional $100,000 contingent upon the city allocating $75,000 from the Voluntary Park Donation Fund. The council approved the project and authorized the additional $75,000 from the Park Donation Fund. It was noted that this will be the second most significant investment in city parks in the city’s history. The city parks department has done lots of demolition done to prepare for the upcoming project.
The council approved the Tax Increment Financing Zone #1 and #2 annual report as presented. It was noted that TIF Zone #1 has added an additional 6 million dollars in taxable values to the zone since inception in 2016. Zone #2 has also created an additional 17.1 million dollars in taxable value to the area and that number will be going up more as the EnviroTech project is ongoing in the rail park.