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MINUTES
The City Council of the City of Palestine, Texas convened in videoconference Regular Meeting on Monday, April 27, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 504 N. Queen Street, Palestine, Texas, with the following members present (via videoconference):
Present: Steve Presley, Mayor; Ann Connor, Mayor Pro Tem; Larissa Loveless, Council Member; Mitchell Jordan, Council Member; Vickey L. Chivers, Council Member; Joe Baxter, Council Member; Dana Goolsby, Council Member
Staff Present: Leslie Cloer, City Manager; Teresa Herrera, City Secretary; Edena Atmore, Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer; Gary Landers, City Attorney; Felipe Garcia, Utilities Director; Mark Fletcher, Streets Director; Mark Harcrow, Interim Police Chief; Mark Miears, Development Services Director; Theresa Holden, Library Director
             
Zoom link was provided for the public.

Council Member Vickey Chivers left the regular meeting at 7:31 p.m. and returned for the closed session.

REGULAR MEETING
             
A.
CALL TO ORDER
With a quorum present, the meeting was called to order at 5:39 p.m.
             
B.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Mayor Presley read Philippians 4:6-7 and was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
             
C. CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
             
1. Discuss and take action for response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).  City Manager Leslie Cloer and NetHealth Public Information Officer and Director of Community Outreach Terrence Ates, and Assistant Director Stephanie Walker, and Dr. Jose Tovar
Information Officer and Director of Community Outreach Terrence Ates provided an update on how and where positive cases are counted. Dr. Tovar explained the testing process and the False Negative COVID-19 Test. He agreed that more needed to be tested and individuals that meet the criteria will be tested. Some Council Members were concerned that some were not being tested and asked to self-quarantine by health professionals.

Assistant Director Stephanie Walker explained that the Texas Department of Health State Services is collecting all the data for Texas. She added that out of 337 only 23 had tested positive for Anderson County.

Council Member Goolsby asked how many people are hospitalized at PRMC and how many of those are TCDJ inmates? She asked because in every press release received the release states the individuals are in home isolation under the care of a physician, and Council was told that inmates would be transferred to Huntsville or Galveston for treatment. Then over the weekend, PRMC released a video of a COVID recovered individual. Mrs. Walker and Dr. Tovar did not know or not allowed to answer the question. Information Officer and Director of Community Outreach Terrence Ates is willing to add COVID patients at PRMC on the dashboard.

Mayor Presley announced that there will be a Town Hall Meeting tomorrow to address the additional concerns regarding COVID-19.
             
D.
PROPOSED CHANGES OF AGENDA ITEMS
There were no proposed changes.
             
E. PUBLIC COMMENTS, PUBLIC RECOGNITION, AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Members of the public may submit their comments by completing the required Request to Speak form by using the weblink below. All comments submitted by 5:00 p.m., the day of the meeting will be read during the meeting.

http://cityofpalestinetx.com/government/city-secretary/policies-forms/request-to-speak/

A. Agenda Items. The following submitted comments to be read during the meeting. The comments were read by Mayor Presley:
  • Maggie Smith submitted comments regarding COVID.
  • Jack Coleman submitted comments regarding the police chief position and the city manager.
  • Tawna Allen submitted comments regarding the city manager and interim police chief.
  • Heather Smith submitted comments regarding the city manager and interim police chief.
  • Cindy Piersol submitted comments regarding the police chief.
  • AD Etheridge submitted comments regarding the city manager.
  • Craig Wilson submitted comments regarding the city manager.
  • Diane Miller submitted comments regarding the city manager.
  • Bob Herrington submitted comments regarding City Manager and Police Chief.
B. Non-Agenda Items. There were none.
             
F. CONFLICT OF INTEREST DISCLOSURES
No action was taken.
             
G. MAYOR'S REPORT
Mayor Presley provided the update on the Governor’s Report to Open Texas.
             
H. ITEMS FROM COUNCIL
Council Member Jordan recognized the Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Anderson County, and he thanked the Police and Fire Department for joining the birthday parade.
             
I. CITY MANAGER'S REPORT
City Manager Cloer provided the following update: Anderson County has 23 positive cases, of the 23 cases two have recovered; she added that all the information provided in the press releases is from NetHealth; the Texas Workforce Commission is currently experiencing extremely high volume via telephone and internet; she provided COVID-19 impact on Unemployment Insurance Claims in East Texas by Week; Connected Nation Texas update; she added that data is still being collected, and customer service has issued 142 additional garbage carts to residential accounts.

City Manager Cloer informed that department directors were present to address questions from Council regarding reports.

The following departmental reports were provided:
             
1. City Manager's Office
             
2. PD March 2020 Stats
             
3. PD PLACE Team March 2020 Report: City Manager Cloer informed that there are 22 illegal dumping sites in the community.
             
4. Finance - Sales Tax Update
             
5. Finance - Property Tax Update
             
J. CONSENT AGENDA
The following items may be acted upon in one motion. No separate discussion or action is necessary unless requested by the Mayor or a Council Member, in which event those items will be pulled for separate consideration. Approval of the consent agenda authorizes the City Manager to implement each item in accordance with staff recommendations.
             
1. Consider approval of minutes of the Work Session and Regular Meeting of March 9, 2020.
             
2. Consider approval of minutes of the Emergency Meeting of March 16, 2020 3:00 p.m.
             
3. Consider approval of minutes of the Emergency Meeting of March 16, 2020 4:15 p.m.
             
4. Consider approval of minutes of the Work Session and Regular Meeting of March 23, 2020.
             
5. Consider approval of invoices over $25,000. Asst. City Manager/CFO, Edena Atmore
  Motion by Council Member Vickey L. Chivers, seconded by Council Member Joe Baxter to approve the Consent Agenda as presented.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
K. REGULAR AGENDA
             
1. Discuss and take action on emergency purchase order to resolve a drainage issue located on East Davis Street and Dallas Street that has become a concern for public safety.  Streets Director Mark Fletcher and Utilities Director Felipe Garcia

City Manager Cloer provided Staff comments. City staff recommends approving the estimate from Athens Contractors, LLC for $30,560.00 for drainage upgrade at Dallas Street.
  Motion by Council Member Mitchell Jordan, seconded by Council Member Larissa Loveless to approve as presented.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
2. Discuss and take action regarding Hotel Occupancy Tax Payment Emergency Deferral Program. Tourism/Marketing Manager Mary Raum
Tourism/Marketing Manager Mary Raum provided Staff comments. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the hoteliers are seeking financial support from the City of Palestine in the form of deferred Hotel Occupancy Tax Payments for 90 days effective May 20, 2020, through July 20, 2020.  This deferral would be eligible to assist hotels that 1) pay hotel occupancy tax to the City of Palestine and 2) are in good standing on HOT payments.  Additional criteria is required as per the eligibility and qualifications of the attached Program outline. Jacksonville, Tyler, and Nacogdoches are not deferring any payments.
  Motion by Council Member Joe Baxter, seconded by Council Member Dana Goolsby to deny the request.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
3. Consider an ordinance authorizing and approving the creation of a Health Facilities Development Corporation on behalf of the City of Palestine, Texas; approving articles of incorporation, and approving bylaws. City Secretary Teresa Herrera
City Secretary Teresa Herrera provided Staff comments. Council adopted R-14-08 approving the creation of a Health Facilities Development Corporation on behalf of the City of Palestine, Texas. Staff is requesting to adopt by ordinance to have it codified.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Larissa Loveless to approve Ordinance No. O-13-20 approving the creation of a Health Facilities Development Corporation as presented.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
4. Consider the appointments to the Health Facilities Development Corporation of Jesse George, III to Place 1 and Dr. David Thompson to Place 2 with the term with to expire May 4, 2021, Blake Starky to Place 3 with term to expire May 4, 2022, and Sara Minton to Place 5 and Diane Davis to Place 6 with the term to expire May 4, 2023. Mayor Steve Presley
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Mitchell Jordan to approve the appointments to the Health Facilities Development Corporation of Jesse George, III to Place 1 and Dr. David Thompson to Place 2 with the term with to expire May 4, 2021, and Sara Minton to Place 5 and Diane Davis to Place 6 with the term to expire May 4, 2023.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
5. Discuss and take action on proposed Anderson County Humane Society Agreement. City Manager Leslie Cloer
City Manager Leslie Cloer provided an update. The Anderson County Humane Society (ACHS) approached the City of Palestine Finance Department requesting if the City would continue providing $25,000.00 in additional annual support to their group.  There is not an existing written agreement regarding this payment arrangement that had previously occurred.  City Council requested updated financial data to show how the money had been utilized by ACHS.  The data was provided to legal counsel in March 2020, but as we were transitioning from Interim City Attorney to City Attorney, the proposed agreement is just now ready to bring to City Council for discussion.

Motion by Council Member Mitchell, seconded by Council Member Joe Baxter to not approve the additional funds. Council Member Joe Baxter withdrew his second to the motion. The motion died for a lack of a second.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Ann Connor to table the item for a month.
  Vote: 5 - 1
 
NAY: Council Member Mitchell Jordan
Other: Council Member Vickey L. Chivers (ABSENT)
             
6. Update regarding the demolition or repair of dilapidated, substandard, or hazardous buildings. City Manager Leslie Cloer and Development Services Director Mark Miears
City Manager Leslie Cloer and Development Services Director Mark Miears provided a summary. The demolition by neglect ordinance needs to be revised. It is a lengthy process and when the structure is occupied it makes it harder to go through the process. He is currently working with attorneys to adopt a new process and hopes to have it ready before summer. The current ordinance does not allow Development Services to assess a fine and maybe, we just need to change how we interpret and enforce the current ordinance.

Council has received complaints regarding building located on Kolstad Street, formally known as First Baptist Church. The building is in poor shape. Development Services has turned the case over to Municipal Court. Municipal Court can enforce with a letter of violation. Development Services would issue the letter of violation. If the property owner ignores the letter, then it is referred to Municipal Court. The next step would be to file a lawsuit against the owner.

City Attorney and Development Services will bring back the item with an action plan.

Motion by Council Member Mitchell Jordan to table this item for a month. The motion died for a lack of a second.

Council expressed that the City has an ordinance in place that is not being enforced. Council will review this item in a month.
             
7. Discuss and take action on grants for the City. Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Mendi Chambers
Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Mendi Chambers and City Manager Leslie Cloer provided a summary on the following grants:
  • Palestine Repeater Infrastructure Project: $348,334.50 100% funded. Complete Communications Infrastructure for the Fire Department radio system.
  • Interoperable Communications Fire Department: $140,834.87. This will be adaptable with Police Radios and with the system above.
  • Step Grant 2021: Total of 12,000 match grant. The Police Department does several public education presentations to go towards Match. In the last few years, we have exceeded our match hours and have not had to pay out of pocket.
  • Mobile Command Communications Satellite, generator, and security: Total of $33,910.00. It is a 100% grant and the 3rd and final year. The Mobile Command unit is in Tyler Texas being outfitted with the Radio Communications system. It is scheduled to be completed by August 2020 and will need to be moved for Computer equipment.
  • Safety Grant: 100% funded. Total: $18,320.87. Evidence Incinerator, Dispatch headsets to be able to talk on the radio and answer phones with the headset, and Swat Helmets.
Discussion regarding FFA grant was held. Mrs. Chambers is researching the grant.
             
L. CLOSED SESSION
Mayor Presley announced that Council would go into Closed Session pursuant to Texas Government Code, Chapter 551, Subchapter D. The time was 8:16 p.m.
             
1. Section 551.072 deliberation regarding real property: the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property, including the Palestine Mall and Civic Center.
             
2. Section 551.087 deliberation regarding economic development negotiations: including Project Potter and Magnum Opus Ventures.
             
3. Section 551.074 personnel matters: to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee; specifically of the economic development director, police chief, and city manager.
             
M. RECONVENE IN REGULAR SESSION
Mayor Presley reconvened Council into open session at 10:20 p.m. Zoom meeting link was provided for the public.
             
1. Take any action necessary regarding real property: the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property, including the Palestine Mall and Civic Center.
No action was taken.
             
2. Take any action necessary regarding economic development negotiations: including Project Potter and Magnum Opus Ventures
No action was taken.
             
3. Take any action necessary regarding the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee; specifically of the economic development director, police chief, and city manager.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Mitchell Jordan to authorize the city manager to extend a conditional offer to the EDC candidate and begin the background checks.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
  Motion by Council Member Larissa Loveless, seconded by Council Member Mitchell Jordan to provide performance goals to the city manager based on her recent evaluation, provided by Council.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
4. Discuss and take action on the Purchase and Sale Agreement between City of Palestine and the Economic Development Corporation for Palestine Mall. City Manager Leslie Cloer explained that the extension for the sale has been recommended by legal counsel by the Christon Company and PEDC legal counsel to July 1, 2020.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Mitchell Jordan to extend the Purchase and Sale Agreement between the City of Palestine and Economic Development Corporation for Palestine Mall until July 1, 2020.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
5. Discuss and take action on the Purchase and Sale Agreement between the Economic Development Corporation and Christon Company for Palestine Mall. City Manager Leslie Cloer
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Mitchell Jordan to extend the Purchase and Sale Agreement between Economic Development Corporation and Christon Company for Palestine Mall until July 1, 2020.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
N. ADJOURNMENT
With no other business to come before Council the meeting was adjourned at 10:26 p.m.
PASSED AND APPROVED THIS 26TH DAY OF MAY 2020.

Steve Presley, Mayor

ATTEST:

Teresa Herrera, City Secretary

    

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