Incumbents file for re-election to council
Polk County Enterprise - February 25, 2007 - March 4, 2007
LIVINGSTON – The City of Livingston and Livingston Independent School District have long shared a polling place, with school district voters casting ballots at city hall. For the May 12 election, they will also be sharing election officials and the cost of voting equipment.
Matters relating to the May election were among topics addressed during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Livingston City Council. City voters will fill three council positions in May, those presently held by Judy Cochran, Clarke Evans and Ray Luna. All three incumbents have filed for re-election.
As it did during the last election, the city will contract with the county for the use of electronic voting equipment to comply with the Help America Vote Act. The county has set usage price at $200 per iVotronic touch screen voting unit and $25 for each palm-sized computer containing voter registration lists. The city will incur no cost if the incumbents face no opposition and the election is canceled.
House Bill 1, approved during the last legislative session, requires a school district with a municipality within its boundaries to hold its trustee election in conjunction with the city’s. While each entity will manage its own election, LISD and the city will share costs.
City Manager Marilyn Sutton and interim LISD Superintendent Shelly Hullihen previously agreed on officials who will oversee the election and the council Tuesday night ratified that choice: Shirley Crager as election judge, with Sarah Cox as alternate. The school board will also have to vote to confirm the election officials.
Rita still making impact
Nearly a year and a half after the fact, Hurricane Rita’s name came up more than once during Tuesday’s meeting.
The storm contributed to age-related damage to the rodeo arena roof. Action on a request from the Polk County Youth Rodeo Association (PCYRA) for city assistance in making repairs was tabled, but not due to lack of concern by the council. The PCYRA, which leases the facility from the city and operates the arena complex, has sought proposals for repairs, with the best price being $14,500 for recoating. The association has approximately $2,000 to put toward the project.
Options discussed include having the city pick up the tab for needed materials, which would amount to $6,120; putting the association’s $2,000 toward the project and letting the PCYRA pay off the $6,380 balance over a five-year period, financed through the city.
The council is concerned that more extensive repairs may be needed; recoating may not solve the problem. “I feel the city needs to get more involved,” Sutton said, indicating the roof may need to be rebuilt. Action was tabled until the extent of the roof damage can be determined.
The September 2005 hurricane was also mentioned during presentation of the city’s annual audit for the year that ended on Sept. 30, 2006.
“Despite hurricane recovery and higher fuel costs, it was still a good year for the city and the city is in good financial condition,” said Steve Palmerton, certified public accountant with Harper and Pearson Company, PC. His firm gave the city an “unqualified opinion,” the highest rating given. Helping offset increased costs was a $335,000 increase in sales tax revenue. Only one month of legalized beer and wine sales approved by voters last year is reflected in the increase since the city’s fiscal year ended in September.
Hurricane Rita is partially blamed for high bids received last year for improvements at Livingston Municipal Airport. “Contractors had more work than they could handle due to the hurricane,” Sutton said. Because of lack of interest from contractors, the lowest bid topped $2 million, well over the $1.4 million cost estimate.
The project, which is being handled by the Texas Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division, was rebid, with proposals to be opened on Thursday.
Funding for the work will come from a federal airport improvement grant which will provide 90 percent of the cost, with the city providing the remaining 10 percent.
Planned improvements include rehabilitation and marking of the 3,700-foot runway and taxiway, reconstruction of the parking apron, installation of a new rotating beacon and precision approach path indicator, as well as relocation of the aviation fueling station.
Replat and property bid
Tuesday’s meeting included a public hearing on a replat of Block 5, Lots 4-7 and 5-12 of the E.E. Cochran Subdivision by Habitat for Humanity.
The original plat included four 100-foot lots, sites for the first four houses to be built as part of Habitat’s Cochran’s Crossing project. The plat change reduces lot sizes to 80 feet, with the remaining acreage to allow different access options. Council members Judy Cochran, one of the former owners of the property, and Ray Hill, who serves on the Habitat committee, abstained from voting.
With no public comments received during the hearing, the replat was approved.
The council tabled action on a $4,650 bid received from Otto Lyons for purchase of 2.50 acres of tax foreclosure property on North Washington Street, just north of West Street. Polk County and the Livingston ISD must also take action on the bid and have more at stake in regaining delinquent taxes owed on the property, Sutton explained. The city, which has not levied a property tax since 1988, is owed only a few dollars in taxes on the property, so the council opted to let the entities with the most financial interest take the lead in considering the bid.
In other business, the council approved payment of $5,000 as the city’s annual share of funding the Polk County Economic and Industrial Development Corporation. The corporation, which handles logistics for businesses interested in locating in the county, is jointly funded by Polk County, the cities of Livingston and Corrigan, First National and First State banks, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, Livingston Telephone Co., Memorial Medical Center – Livingston and Sam Houston Electric Cooperative.
Sutton reported that the 2006 Racial Profiling Report from the Livingston Police Department is being prepared and will be delivered to council members by the March 1 deadline mandated by law.