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Navasota prepares for large gas project

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The Navasota City Council held a Regular Meeting Monday, Sept. 13, and paving the way for the largest gas project in more than 15 years. Council approved an Engineering Agreement in the amount of $25,000 with Strand Associates for the 2021 Gas System Model Development.

Utility Administrative Assistant, Jennifer Reyna, said, “The city has experienced some growth and the natural gas system needs to be evaluated to determine if it needs new mains, regulator stations, or to improve pressure and volume.”

In a separate item, council approved $70,000 for an Engineering Agreement with Strand Associates for the 2021 Hollister Gas Regulator Station Replacement Project. According to Reyna, the gas regulator station on Hollister Street is very old and undersized.

Reyna said, “It also feeds the west side of town. This past storm we really had to monitor the gas regulator station because if that goes down, then that whole side goes down. We need to make some improvements to see that that doesn’t happen.”

A brief discussion followed about the six-figure cost, the necessity and the specialty nature of the natural gas bid project. Reyna advised when a regulator station and pressure in one part of town is increased, it causes “burping,” or gas leak complaints, in another part of town.

City Manager search begins

Responding to the retirement of City Manager Brad Stafford, council met in Executive Session as permitted by Section 551.074 of the Texas Government Code and approved an addendum to a modification of the agreement for professional services and employment of a city manager with Stafford.

Mayor Bert Miller said, “There is under negotiation an agreement for interim services with Mr. Stafford and there is a process that is beginning for interviews, with citizen involvement, in the search for the new city manager.”

See related article on page 1.

West side food truck park gets OK

After a public hearing with no comments against, council approved a specific use permit application submitted by Christopher Komarzec for property located at 1102 W. Washington Avenue for development of a food truck park.

In addition to questions about the number and type of food trucks, how powered, and their transiency, many of council’s questions centered on parking, particularly access from Second Street, and how perpendicular parking would discourage customers from turning around on that dead end street. Responding to a citizen inquiry about accommodating 18-wheeler traffic, Komarzec suggested the possibility of curbside pickup in front of the former Ruthie’s.

When asked about onsite oversight of the property, Komarzec said he plans to retire in this area, and “would like to be known for being a part of the community.”

See related article on page 3.

Budget, tax matters

•After a public hearing with no citizen comments and a record vote, council approved the first reading of Ordinance 975-21 adopting the budget for fiscal year Oct. 1, 2021-Sept. 30, 2022. The budget of $35,639,406 represents an 8.75% increase and will bring in $195,530, more property taxes than last year. Of that, $110,200 is revenue raised from new and annexed property added to the tax roll in this current fiscal year. Finance Director Lance Hall said he’ll be making some adjustments before the second reading.

•After a public hearing with no citizen comments, and a record vote, council moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 976- 21 establishing the tax rate for property taxes during the 2021 tax year at $0.5693 per $100 valuation. The rate, which is unchanged from the current year, is expected to generate $2,893,736.93 with $347,675.40 dedicated to debt service.

•With a record vote, council approved ratifying the tax increase reflected in the budget as required by Section 102.007, Texas Local Government, when an adopted budget requires more revenue from property taxes than previous years.

•Council also approved the 2022 Tax Assessment and Collection Contract with the Grimes Central Appraisal District in the amount of $14,282 for assessment/collection and $68,831 for appraisals. Last year’s assessment/collection fee was $11,490 while the appraisal fee was $62,439.

Council member Bernie Gessner emphasized for city residents that City taxes represent about one-quarter of total property taxes. While Grimes County and other taxing entities may not have raised their tax rates, property owners will see a universal increase in taxes based on assessed value.

Other council action:

•Approved a request from the Christian Community Service Center for assistance with utility payment up to $200 per month for fiscal year 2021-2022.

•Approved expenditure of $1,250 to advertise Navasota’s five hotels in 10 issues of Insite Magazine.

•Approved the Consent Agenda which included the minutes and expenditures for the month of August 2021, the second readings of Ordinance No. 972-21 approving a voluntary annexation, Ordinance No. 973-21, amending Chapter 13 Utilities adopting warranty regulations on public improvements, and Ordinance No. 974-21, amending Chapter 14 Zoning adding public improvement warranty provisions.

Reports from City staff or City officials:

•Received an update from City Manager Brad Stafford on the Railroad Street Drainage project.

•Received an update from John Henry with Bleyl Engineering on the Capital Improvement Project.

•Received the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley (ACBV) quarterly report and an update from Budget Analyst Kay Peavy on new artists and grant fund distribution.

•Mayor Bert Miller announced Navasota was one of three recipients of an award presented by the ACBV in recognition of the ACBV’s 10th anniversary.

•Miller read a proclamation recognizing Sept. 20- 24 as National GEAR Up Week.

•Pattie Pederson reported on the recent Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.

View city council meetings in their entirety at www.navasotatx.gov/city-council/pages/meeting-videos.