By Devin Corbitt, The Belton Journal
This week’s Belton City Council meeting was quite special, as several presentations recognized the city and its employees for their excellence.
The first recognition praised Assistant Finance Director Susan Allamon for completing the grueling task of obtaining her Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license.
“I just want to say how proud we are of Susan for accomplishing this,” Finance Director Brandon Bozon said. “It’s not an easy feat: rather grueling exams, and then you have to work with another CPA for a year. It’s an awesome accomplishment.”
The second notified the council that the city’s Finance Department received the 2015 Silver Leadership Circle Award from the Texas Comptroller’s Office. This designation means that the city excelled in several categories, including transparency of the budget and other financial information. This is the sixth year the city has received the award.
The next presentation brought Manolo Guillen before the council. Guillen graduated from Belton High School last week in the top 5 percent of his class. Before his graduation, though, Guillen was awarded a $2,000 scholarship from the city and Waste Management for his significant accomplishments during high school.
“He did all sorts of work in high school, overachieved beyond belief,” Aaron Harris, Grant Coordinator for the City, said.
Guillen will attend Texas A&M in the fall, where he will pursue a medical degree in hopes of becoming a physical therapist.
From there, several department heads presented new employees hired within the last quarter to the council.
The Finance Department introduced Heriberto “Eddie” Jasso, an Accounting Technician, and Jennifer Jones, a Customer Service Representative in the billing department.
The Public Works Department introduced Russell Kuder, a maintenance worker for water and sewer lines; William Gutierrez, a meter reader; Marcie Seele, an administrative assistant; Zacchaeus Salas-Shed, a street maintenance worker; and George Coalston, a street maintenance worker.
The Police Department introduced Aubrey Webb, a police officer from the College Station and Hearne Police Departments; Cadets Alton Bennett and Jason Wimbish, who have just begun their training at the Temple Police Academy; Tammy Jo McCleney, who will take over as the C.H.I.P.S. Volunteer Coordinator; and Linda Haley, a community service specialist, who started work on Monday.
Each new employee received a warm welcome from the council.
The council then unanimously approved the consent agenda, which contained appointments to the Parks Board and the Planning and Zoning Commission. The mayor reappointed T.R. McLaughlin, Diane Ring and Jason Wolfe to the Parks Board, and the appointment of John Holmes, Mat Neagele, Jason Morgan and Frank Minosky to the P&Z Commission.
The council then approved a resolution that will allow the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to close a portion of Highway 317 (Main Street) for the July 4 parade.
Following last week’s tabling of a public hearing that would approve a zoning change for the old H-E-B Grocery building (located on the corner of Main Street and Sixth Avenue), City Manager Sam Listi presented the changes to items that originally concerned council members. The first of these was the set up of a propane refilling station adjacent to Sixth Ave. and within the building’s outdoor sales area. ACE Hardware has proposed using a horizontal 1,000-gallon tank, rather than the typical tank, which contains 2,000 gallons and stands vertically. According to the Railroad Commission, which regulates such tanks, a 10-foot clearance is required around the tank for safety purposes. The applicant has also offered to screen the tank so it is not an eyesore from the street.
The second item of concern was the monument sign that would sit right on the corner of Main and Sixth, replacing the existing sign. The current sign stands 14 feet tall; however, city ordinances limit monument signs to 8 feet. After deliberation, the city and the applicant agreed to a 10-foot sign, since it would sit in a 2-foot detention pond.
The zoning change was approved 4-1 with Mayor Pro Tem David K. Leigh opposed.
“I understand that the city has worked with the applicant to do this the best way possible, but I, personally, am not for the outside storage and propane tank along Sixth,” Leigh said. “I think, from a building standpoint, it’s a lot better to go on the other side since the owner owns both sides of the building.”
The following item would give the new owner of the former H-E-B building $55,000 in incentives to renovate the building. This item was approved during the previous city council meeting, contingent upon the approval of the site’s zoning change. Since that item was approved, the applicant will receive $5,000 in the form of city permit fee waivers and $50,000 cash payable upon completion of the renovations. The item was approved unanimously.
The final item of the evening involved the City Charter. The Charter must be reviewed every 10 years by a committee of at least seven members. The last time it was reviewed in 2005, the charter underwent major updates. According to Mayor Marion Grayson, it had not been adequately updated since the 1950s.
Any significant changes proposed would appear on November’s general election ballot.
Listi recommended appointing the 7-member City Council as the review committee. Council member Jerri Gauntt had reservations, citing a desire for more community input. Although many of the other council members shared her desire, they also noted that the charter likely will not need any major overhauls. As such, Grayson suggested that the council convene to take an initial look at the charter. Should a need arise for more input, members will be added to the committee. The council unanimously approved this suggestion.
Of course, suggestions from community members are always welcomed and encouraged.
“I would welcome any citizen to read it, as well, and let us know if there’s anything in there that they would like to see changed.”
If you have any comments on the city charter, please a city council member or the city manager. Contact information for council members is available at www.beltontexas.gov/Index.aspx?NID=29.
The Belton City Council will reconvene on June 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the Harris Community Center, 401 N. Alexander St.