The Brownwood City Council on Tuesday, after lengthy discussion, begrudgingly authorized Mayor Stephen Haynes by unanimous vote to sign a lease with BNSF Railway Company for approximately 4 acres of land on Washington Street for the development of a parking lot for the Event Center complex.
The lease calls for $12,000 annual lease rate and the City would be responsible for development and construction of a parking lot along with any maintenance and upkeep of the property. The lease can be terminated by either party with a 30-day notice. The annual lease payment has been accounted for in the HOT budget.
The plan for the parking lot would be to develop it in phases. The first phase would be for City crews to clear the property and create an overflow parking area made from base material. Phase 2 would be to potentially pave the lot over the base once the Event Center complex is operational and funding becomes available. Estimates and plans to install solar parking lights are also on file and would be incorporated into the plans. The goal would be to clean up this area and make it more functional to benefit the Event Center. This lot should hold approximately 400-plus vehicles once complete.
City officials were not thrilled about the conditions of the lease. but Ray Tipton, Executive Director of the Brownwood Municipal Development District, said during the meeting, “I think the bottom line with them, when you’re dealing with the railroad, this is a take it or leave it. This is our only chance to do anything with this. If we don’t execute this particular lease, it’s going to stay in its current condition. I don’t think I would never be in favor of this if we were building a structure on the property, but for what our purpose is I’m comfortable with it.”
Council member Ed McMillian said, “I think $12,000 for 4 acres is totally ridiculous, but it doesn’t surprise me being it’s the railroad.”
City Attorney Pat Chesser said, “I don’t like the lease terms, but this is BNSF, this is how they roll.”
Haynes chimed in with reasoning to accept the conditions, stating, “They haven’t spent a dime here in 50 years, they’re not going to turn around and spend any money here in the future. They haven’t made an investment in Brownwood in a long, long time.”
Other matters taken up by the City Council included:
Replacement of an HVAC unit #2 at the Lehnis Railroad Museum
The City Council authorized the replacement of an HVAC unit #2 at the Lehnis Railroad Museum for $13,466.25 to be completed by Heart of Texas Mechanical.
Installation is set to begin Sept. 28.
This unit services the main lobby and front office areas of the museum and became inoperable over the summer. Heart of Texas Mechanical submitted an estimate for replacement of this unit, which was $9,200 at the time, but Heart of Texas said it would likely be early 2023 when one would become available, and they could not guarantee the price. Heart of Texas was able to obtain a replacement unit recently and are ready to install, but the final price for the unit and installation climbed more than $4,000.
The City Council authorized grant award of $111,428.57 from the 2021 Assistance to Firefighters Grant and purchase equipment from Stryker Corporation in the amount of $117,026.04.
Two 12-lead Cardiac Monitors and 3 Lucas Mechanical CPR Devices from the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program will be purchased using the Savvik buying group, which meets local and federal purchasing guidelines. The City is responsible for the remaining 5% of the cost of the project which will be approximately $5,597.47; these unbudgeted matching funds will come from donations already received.
New sewer lift station
The City Council authorized the purchase the new sewer lift station package unit from Hydro Source Services, Inc. at a cost of $30,754.58 utilizing American Rescue Plan.
The lift station at the Airport was damaged in the freeze of 2021. Due to its age and condition, it could not be repaired. City staff with assistance from Public Management the consulting firm, solicited for proposals to purchase a new lift station package unit to replace the Airport lift station. Delivery is expected to be 12 to 14 weeks out, once the unit is received the Utility Department coordinate the electrical work and will install the lift station
Upgrading Civil Service, Fire and Police Pay
The City Council approved an ordinance on first/final reading updating the salary, longevity pay, and certification pay for all Civil Service – Firefighters and Police Officers. Police officers will receive an increase in pay of 3%., firefighters will receive an increase in pay of 2%, and there will be an addition of one civil service patrol officer, which is the conversion of the City Marshall to a civil service position.
Regulating outdoor lighting
The City Council approved an ordinance on first reading regulating outdoor lighting. The matter will come before the Council again for a second and third/final reading.
Key aspects of the ordinance are:
- Lights have to be adequately shielded which means that the light is shielded by opaque materials such that light rays are limited to the parcel of origin and the light source is not visible from another property or the public right-of-way
- Any beam of light must be controlled and not directed across any bounding property above a height of 3 feet
- The allowable maximum intensity of the light measured at the property line abutting a residential use shall be 0.25 footcandles
- Any pre-existing lights must be brought into compliance with the standards of the ordinance within one month if redirection of the light will bring compliance, or within three months in all other cases
New capital leases with Citizens National Bank and property tax pledge
The City Council approved a resolution approving 10 new capital leases with Citizens National Bank and assigning a property tax pledge.
The 2021-22 fiscal year budget included the purchase of various pieces of equipment for the Fire, Street, Water, Sanitation, Landfill, and Technology departments totaling $2,453,023. These purchases were budgeted as capital leases. Actual costs came in under budget projections and the City had budgeted for current year payments on these capital leases which reduces the amount the City has to borrow. As a result, the City will only need to borrow the following for budgeted items:
- Fire Department – Spartan Fire Engine $591,698
- Street Department – Crafco Crack Seal Machine $82,630
- Street Department – JD Motor Grader $210,235
- Street Department – JD Skid Steer & attachments $98,700
- WWC Department – JD Mini Excavator $72,290
- Sanitation Department – Autocar Rolloff $194,849
- Sanitation Department – Autocar Side Loader $262,506
- Landfill Department – Windrow Turner & Tractor $152,039
- Fleet Department – Holt Haul Trailer $70,335
- Information Technology – Computer Hardware & Software $292,228
- Total $2,027,510
Denied Oncor rate increase
The City Council approved a resolution denying Oncor Electric Delivery Company’s Application for approval of a distribution cost recovery factor to increase distribution rates with the City.
HOT Service Agreement with Chamber of Commerce
The City Council approved authorizing the Mayor to sign a Hotel Occupancy Tax Service Agreement with the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce. Under this new agreement, the Chamber is requesting $5,000 of HOT funds for next year to continue the management of the highway banners that are used to promote events that hangs across E. Commerce between Chili’s and Popeye’s.
The Chamber are also asked for up to three free rentals per year at the new event center complex to host events. Although the facility will not be open during the term of this agreement, there is a possibility of pre-booking events what this agreement would cover.
Under this agreement, the Chamber would also fulfill their contractual duties with National Sign Plazas to complete the wayfinding signage project on major corridors and Downtown Brownwood. City Staff are assisting and heavily involved in this effort.
The City Council approved the Consider appointments and re-appointments to the following boards:
- Brownwood Municipal Development District Board 2-year terms – with a 4-year term limit: Lynn Day, Mark Bessent, and Weston Jacobs (replacing Tim Jacobs)
- Lehnis Transportation Museum: Jonathan McCullough
- Planning and Zoning Commission: Tarino Russell (replacing Weston Jacobs)
- Ratified the Brownwood Municipal Development District Board to approve a Building Improvement Incentive Program grant to Elliot Kirk not to exceed $20,000 for a property located at 2512 Belle Plain.
- Ratified the Brownwood Municipal Development District Board to approve a Building Improvement Incentive Program grant to Gabs Holdings, LLC, not to exceed $15,000 for a property located at 3104 Highway 3 77S.
- Ratified of the Brownwood Municipal Development District Board to approve a Building Improvement Incentive Program grant to Tracy Tucker not to exceed $20,250 for a property located at 707 Center Avenue.