By Devin Corbitt, The Belton Journal
After hearing a public comment from the Sparta Fire Department, Belton Mayor Marion Grayson came forward to read a very special proclamation at the Belton City Council meeting on Tuesday.
“Whereas June 23, 2015, has officially been designated as the day in the City of Belton to remember and recognize veterans who are recipients of the Purple Heart medal, I, Marion Grayson, Mayor of the City of Belton, Texas, do hereby proclaim the City of Belton as a Purple Heart City, honoring the service and sacrifice of our nation’s men and women in uniform wounded or killed by the enemy while serving to protect the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans. I further encourage the citizens of Belton to show their appreciation for the sacrifices the Belton Purple Heart recipients have made in defending our freedoms to acknowledge their courage and to show them the honor and support they have earned.”
Two representatives from the Central Texas Chapter 1876 Military Order of the Purple Heart were present to accept the proclamation.
“This is a national program,” Earl Williams said. “You will go on a national register with the Military Order of the Purple Heart. You will now be able to use our logo.”
Salado, Killeen, Harker Heights and Copperas Cove are also Purple Heart cities.
The next item of the night was the consent agenda, which included an Interlocal Agreement with the Belton Independent School District for operation of a career and technical high school education fire course. This agreement allows juniors and seniors in BISD interested in pursuing a firefighting profession to gain an advantage over other potential firefighters in the area by exposing them to the life of a firefighter in high school. The instructors are paid by BISD. The consent agenda was passed unanimously, with Mayor Pro Tem David K. Leigh absent.
The council then held a public hearing for a zoning change that would allow for an indoor shooting range at 7300 Nolan Bluff Road. No one came forward to comment on the zoning change. The item was approved unanimously.
A preliminary plat for the Buckanna Ranch Subdivision, located on the east side of Connell Street, was presented to the council. However, the applicant expressed a desire to waive or reduce the perimeter street improvement requirement, which provides money to improve city streets along the perimeter of a subdivision, which is Connell Street in this case. The requirement calls for a developer to pay for half the cost of paving the length of the roadway (frontage) and installing guttering on the side that runs alongside the subdivision. The money is placed in an escrow account until the city is prepared to repave the street.
The property owner stated that it was unfair for him to pay the full amount when compared to Southwood Hills subdivision, which is also located along Connell Street and runs along approximately the same amount of roadway. Buckanna Ranch is composed of 35 single-family lots, whereas Southwood Hills is composed of 76 duplex lots, which, according to the property owner, creates an impact discrepancy.
However, city staff noted that subdivisions with less frontage often contain more internal streets, which they are also required to pay for. They also expressed concern about setting a precedent for waiving this cost, which is a critical part of paying for city road improvements. The council agreed while also noting the need to reevaluate the ordinance. They voted to table the item until the next meeting in hopes of reaching an agreement with the property owner.
The council then moved on to appointing a new city clerk. Former Clerk Jana Lewellen resigned last month in order to work closer to her family. This week, city staff recommended approval of Amy Casey to take over as City Clerk. Casey’s experience includes the City of Belton in the early 1990s as a Data Processing Manager and Director of Management Services. She has also worked for the City of Temple and Bell County. The council unanimously approved the recommendation; she will begin on Monday.
“I’m excited to be here in Belton,” Casey said. “I’m excited to get back into municipal government. I appreciate your confidence in me.”
The final item on the agenda was the first reading of an ordinance granting a one-year extension of a franchise to Capital EMS to operate and maintain a non-emergency ambulance transfer service in Belton. Capital EMS provided 292 non-emergency ambulance transports in the City of Belton, mainly from nursing homes, in 2014. Last year, the franchise fee was waived in return for providing pack-up emergency ambulances for the city. This agreement was utilized 34 times.
The council unanimously approved the first reading.
The Belton City Council will reconvene July 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the Harris Community Center, 401 N. Alexander in Belton.