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Oaths, bids, donations top city agenda

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    Municipal Court Judge Pat Gruner administers the oath of office to newly elected city council members Bernie Gessner, Pattie Pederson, and Josh Fultz. Examiner photos by Connie Clements
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The Navasota City Council held a Regular Meeting Monday, Nov. 9, and administered the oath of office to three newly elected council members, approved the sale of Certificates of Obligation and a bid which “exceeded expectations,” and received donations for park improvements.

Three sworn in

Municipal Court Judge Pat Gruner donned her official robe for the first time in more than six months to administer the oath of office to Navasota’s newly elected council members.

Bernie Gessner retained the Position 1 seat over challenger Randy Peters. Artist and live music venue owner, Pattie Pederson prevailed over incumbent, architect Geoff Horn for Position 2. Incumbent Josh Fultz ran unopposed for Position 3.

After the oaths were administered, council elected Bert Miller to serve as Mayor and Grant Holt as Mayor Pro-Tem.

Sound management credited for CO bid

Council members approved Ordinance No. 948-20, the issuance and sale of City of Navasota, Texas, Combination Tax and Limited Surplus Revenue Certificates of Obligation. It was on Sept. 4 that council approved a notice of intent to issue debt in the amount of $10 million to fund the 2020 Capital Improvement Project that will include utility main replacement and street and drainage improvements.

James Gilley of U.S. Capitol Advisors said, “This morning we took bids in a competitive auction type sale and received a total of four bids.

The best bid went to the Baker Group out of Oklahoma City. They submitted an initial true interest cost of 1.809355. After the Baker Group bid to the City, they offered to buy the bonds at a premium. They essentially offered more than face value of the bonds, so a portion of that premium went to reduce the principal amount and reduced the borrowing requirement. The final carve-out resulted in $9,865,000. The total proceeds to the City at closing will be $10 million to spend on your projects.”

According to Gilley, the low and high bids were separated by less than 0.06%, and “speaks to the sound financial management and y’all’s prudent conservative decisions.”

Praising the City’s “A” bond rating affirmed by Standard & Poor, Gilley commended City Manager Brad Stafford and City staff for maintaining that rating.

He said, “Maintaining that rating is such a positive statement for the City, to withstand this economic downturn this entire nation is facing, it is again a testament to your prudent decision making. Anything under 2% is hard to believe.”

Closing will take place in 30-days after approval by the Texas Attorney General’s office.

City park receives donations

The Navasota Noon Lions Club, the Navasota Evening Lions Club and the Navasota Kiwanis Club presented City of Navasota Facilities Manager Dominique Lowery with donations for the purchase of playground equipment at a local city park. The two Lions Club organizations donated $2,500 each and the Navasota Kiwanis donated $500.

Stafford said, “These folks were very generous in assisting our Parks Department. We’re very excited that these folks donated money for our playground equipment at Mockingbird Park.”

Ag/Open zoning complete

After a public hearing with no comments against, council approved Planning and Zoning’s (P&Z) recommendation to rezone the last of the Agriculture/Open Space Districts identified in the City of Navasota’s 2015-2025 Comprehensive Plan.

The nine parcels of land totaling 208.4 acres are located in the northwest quadrant of the city in the Cemetery Hill area. Five parcels were rezoned to R-1C, two-acre single dwelling residential lots, one parcel to R-1B, single dwelling quarter acre lots with the final three rezoned R-3 to encourage multi-dwelling residential development.

According to Community Development Specialist Lupe Diosdado, P&Z has rezoned 1,135.64 acres of A/O land since they began September 2018.

Councilman Bernie Gessner, the owner of 7.8 acres and relative of the owner of the neighboring 1-acre, recused himself from both the public hearing and voting on the item.

Towing changes protect users, providers

City council approved Ordinance No.947-20, amending Chapter 4, Article 4.07, Towing Companies in the City’s code of ordinances. According to Lt. Mike Mize, among the items addressed in the updated 29-page ordinance are consent and non-consent tows, rotation lists, licensing, consent forms, pricing, the complaint process and abandoned and junk vehicle tows.

Other council action:

•Approved canvassing the Nov. 3, 2020, City Election returns.

•Appointed Dr. James Laub to both the Parks Board and the Keep Navasota Beautiful Commission.

•Received a presentation on the Navasota Sidewalk and Trail Plan. See related article on page 2.

•Approved Consent Agenda items which included minutes and expenditures for October 2020 and the second reading of Ordinance No. 943-20 for City of Navasota tax roll, Brazos County portion; No. 944-20 for City of Navasota tax roll, Grimes County portion; and No.945- 20, updated service credits with the Texas Municipal Retirement System.

Staff report:

•City Manager Brad Stafford reported 48 active cases of COVID-19 in Navasota.

•Enriquez Padron in Streets and Sanitation was recognized for 10 years of service and Fire Chief Jason Katkoski was recognized for 25 years of service.

•Introduced was new Utility Billing Clerk, Venessa Dimahia, who transferred from Dispatch.

•Mayor Bert Miller proclaimed Nov. 11-17, 2020 as “National Apprenticeship Week,” and Nov. 9 as “Lady Rattler Volleyball Day.”

•Received a report from city council liaison Geoff Horn about the Oct. 28 Board of Adjustments meeting.

•Reminder from Mayor Bert Miller about Navasota Rattler Football Bi-District Playoff at home Thurs, Nov. 12, and Veterans Day Parade Saturday, Nov. 14.

Remarks of visitors:

•Resident Deborah Richardson said she has observed a number of places in Navasota that sell food throw it away even though it is still edible. She suggested the City approach some agencies who might be able to collect the surplus food from eateries and grocery stores and distribute to residents undergoing hardship as a result of the Coronavirus.

•Resident Karen Hughes said while repairing a water leak on property she owned, she was viciously attacked by a pit bull. While the dog was initially on a chain, it broke free. The owner failed to contain the unimmunized animal even after being notified, which resulted in the attack. Hughes requested the City consider more stringent laws related to dogs that show aggressive behavior.

City council agendas, minutes and videos are available at www.navasotatx.gov/city-council.