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Navasota charter review off and running

October 11, 2023 - 00:00
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    Navasota Police Chief Mike Mize and members of the Navasota Police Department accept the National Night Out Proclamation from Mayor Bert Miller. Oct. 17 has been designated as National Night Out in Navasota and provides “a great opportunity for the community, law enforcement and other public safety officials to join forces with over 37 million people nationwide in support of ‘America’s Night Out Against Crime.’”
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    Human Resources Director Peggy Johnson presents a Certificate of Achievement to NPD Communications Supervisor Sarah Moon for 5-years of service to the City of Navasota.
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    Mayor Bert Miller and Navasota Grimes County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director celebrate Oct. 18 as Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day. The proclamation recognizes chambers of commerce “as a trusted resource for businesses, residents and other stakeholders” and their role in building resilient economies and promoting communitywide prosperity.

Three of the five newly appointed members of the Charter Review Committee received an introduction to their responsibilities at the Monday, Oct. 9 Regular Meeting of the Navasota City Council. Council opened the agenda item by approving the appointment of Mac Vaughn to join Dia Copeland, Deborah Richardson, Ashley Ver Shurr and Brenda Williams on the committee. Vaughn and Ver Shurr were both absent from Monday’s meeting.

Each Wednesday evening, from Oct. 25 through Dec. 6, the committee will navigate the 38-page document and bring recommended changes to council in January 2024 for approval as a ballot measure for the May 4, 2024, Special Election.

City Manager Jason Weeks said the meetings will be held in Room 200 at City Hall from 5:30 to no later than 8 p.m. and will be open to the public. The initial meeting will consist of cleaning up legal terms resulting from legislative changes.

City legal counsel Cary Bovey said, “Each change or each subject matter change to the charter has to have a separate ballot or proposition.”

He recalled approximately 13-14 changes on the ballot when Navasota’s charter was last changed in 2007.

Council term changes?

One change bandied about the last few years is changing council member terms from two years to three years. Add to that, staggering reelection from two members one year and three members the next year to two members, two members and one member.

Bovey suggested the change “would prevent this wholesale turnover” and would allow new council members “to get their feet on the ground” learning the process before having to campaign again.

Bovey said, “The charter is an extremely important document for the City of Navasota. Its charter is a kin to the Constitution, federally. The charter is the document that says this is what the City, as approved by the voters, is allowed to do…Basically, a charter is under state law. The City can do anything that is not prohibited by state law.”

Weeks said, “In order to change it, the voters have to approve it. Unlike ordinances, the council makes those, so you have the charter that oversees our ordinance. The ordinances can be changed all the time. The charter can be changed only every two years by the voters.”

Other council action:

•Authorized Assistant City Manager Kristin Gauthier to perform the duties of the city manager in his absence or disability.

•Approved the first reading of Ordinance No. 103323, the Project Plan and Financing Plan for the City of Navasota Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #1.

•Nominated Jennifer Fultz Jarvis as a candidate to the Grimes Central Appraisal District board of directors.

•Approved Airport Utilities Extension Project Change Order No. 2 for $1,355 related to gate hinges. The $246,181 contract with D&S Contracting to extend utility lines and construct a new driveway remains under budget by $1,464.

Staff report:

•Mayor Bert Miller presented proclamations recognizing Oct. 17 as National Night Out in Navasota and Oct. 18 as Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day.

•Human Resources Director Peggy Johnson introduced new employees: Assistant City Manager Kristin Gauthier and Natural Gas Technician Eli Juarez. New Fire Cadet Victoria Gutierrez was not present.

•NPD Communications Supervisor Sarah Moon was recognized for five years of service.

•CIP Update: Public Works Director Jennifer Reyna gave a status report on the Streets and Utilities CIP and the Fire Hydrant Replacement Project.

•TML Update: The city manager and council members briefly reported on their attendance at the Texas Municipal League Conference last week.

Public Comments

Resident Mary Mable spoke about a leak at the Carver Learning Center resulting in a bill in excess of $1,500, her concern that the City has discontinued courtesy calls to residents about leaks and that some residents don’t have phones that allow them to install apps.

City Manager Jason Weeks responded saying, “The reason we switched to the new meters is to put that responsibility on to the users. There is an alarm in there that when you’re using a certain amount, it will tell you.”

Weeks went on to say that staff are working with the City’s chief financial officer to draft a water leak policy “that can exist for cases like this” and that new marketing personnel will work toward educating the public on use of the app.

View council meetings at city_council/agendas___ minutes.php.