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Council approves new home for Troop 361

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The Navasota City Council held a Regular Meeting Monday, July 27, and approved negotiating a contract with the Navasota Kiwanis Club to use the former municipal pro shop at August Horst Park as a Boy Scout meeting facility.

Boy Scout Troop 361 was chartered in 1923 and has met at Cleveland Park for several decades in a building owned by the Kiwanis. The organization also covers the annual charter fee, utilities and other maintenance expenses.

According to Kiwanis member Richard Grimes and Scout Master Benjamin Mendez, the Cleveland Park site is in disrepair, has become unsafe and has security issues. While some repairs are needed at the pro shop, the contract will allow the dollar value of repairs made by the Boy Scouts be applied to the rent.

Council member Bernie Gessner questioned if the location change would discourage youth from joining or attending.

Mendez said, “I can tell you right now that we’re going to make sure the kids get to where they need to get to. We want this home to be for the Boy Scouts but also for the Cub Scouts to be able to come out.”

Addressing the proximity to the football fields and the VFW Hall where the Scouts participate in Flag Day activities, he added, “I believe the community will see the Boy Scout hut as a good place for people to be.”

Budget preview

Council received a report from City Manager Brad Stafford and Finance Intern James McKenzie during a workshop on what is shaping up to be a $24 million budget.

Stafford said, “One of the things we’re still working on is revenue. We got good news on sales tax for the last couple of months when we thought it might be bad news. We’re still playing a waiting game on the sales tax in August because we want to see what that looks like before we set this budget. Property tax, we do have our values in. We’re trying to get a meeting scheduled with the appraisal district so we can get our numbers set on our tax rate.”

At present, the budget doesn’t include a utility fee increase or employee salary adjustments, but does include funds for three fulltime firefighters, Animal Control staff and a budget analyst in the Finance Department.

There will be fewer projects, and a $10,000 Union Pacific grant will go toward landscaping and fencing at the new city parking lot, easing the city’s burden.

Referencing grants and the Capital Improvement Plan, Stafford said, “I think we can move forward with replacing the water and sewer mains, streets and drainage, to make some major improvements across town.”

McKenzie presented data on property tax revenue, taxable value, tax rates and a comparison of Navasota tax rates to Brenham, Bryan and College Station.

According to McKenzie, property tax revenue doubled from 2009-2019. The Grimes Central Appraisal District reports during that time, the taxable value rose from $255.6 million to $475.9 million.

In 2019, Navasota had the second highest adopted tax rate at 0.5693, compared to Bryan’s 0.62999, College Station’s 0.534618, and Brenham at 0.514.

Other council action:

•Approved the Consent Agenda which included the second reading of Ordinance 934-20, a zoning change on the city’s west side and Ordinance 935-20 granting a specific use permit for an RV park behind 9524 Highway 6, Loop South.

•Received the City of Navasota Quarterly Investment Report for quarter ending June 30, 2020.

Staff report:

•Introduced new Code Enforcement Officer, Erik Covarrubias.

•Marketing and Communications Coordinator Madison Brooks announced Kid Fish will be held Saturday, Aug. 8, from 8-11 a.m. at Patout Park. Sponsors are the City of Navasota and Noon Lions Club. Registration is on-site, with T-shirts given to the first 100 participants.

•Received an update on current street projects.

•Administrative Intern Alicia Ortman has completed internship status and will return to work for the City on a project.

Mayor’s report:

•All were reminded to complete the census.

•ESL and GED classes are continuing online. Library computers are available for use.

Remarks of visitors:

Resident Todd Wisner expressed his concerns about the method used for COVID-19 data reporting, his dissatisfaction with the mayor’s proclamation, his disappointment with local leadership, and his opinion that allowing citizens to refrain from wearing a mask if social distancing is unacceptable and that cases will increase substantially by Aug. 22.