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The City Council of the City of Palestine, Texas convened in a Special Telephonic or Internet Meeting on Monday, April 20, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 504 N. Queen Street, Palestine, Texas, with the following members:
Present: Mayor Steve Presley; Mayor Pro Tem Ann Connor; Council Member Larissa Loveless; Council Member Mitchell Jordan; Council Member Vickey L. Chivers; Council Member Joe Baxter; Council Member Dana Goolsby
Staff Present: Leslie Cloer, City Manager; Edena Atmore, Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer; Teresa Herrera, City Secretary; Gary Landers, City Attorney; Felipe Garcia, Utilities Director; Mark Harcrow, Interim Police Chief; Mark Miears, Development Services Director; Theresa Holden, Library Director
             
Other staff present: Mary Raum, Tourism Marketing Manager; Rachel Nichols, Main Street Manager; Andy Sibai, Senior Accountant; Terry Johnson, PEDC Project Manager

SPECIAL MEETING
             
A.
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Presley called the special meeting to order at 4:01 p.m. He announced that due to the format of the meeting, he would begin with a roll call to confirm all members of the City Council were present and able to participate in the meeting. Council Members were asked to respond "yes" if present. The above mentioned were present. Also, he conducted a roll call of city staff.
             
B. PUBLIC COMMENTS
All members of the public were asked to submit their comments by completing the required Request to Speak form by using the web link below. All comments submitted prior to the meeting were read during the meeting.
http://cityofpalestinetx.com/government/city-secretary/policies-forms/request-to-speak/

The following comments were read by Mayor Presley:
  • Heather Smith submitted comments regarding personnel matters: to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee; specifically of the city manager.
  • Bob Herrington submitted comments regarding personnel matters; specifically of the city manager.
  • Jack Coleman submitted comments regarding Item E, discussion of personnel matters specifically relating to the city manager.
  • Terry Johnson, Project Manager, PEDC, submitted comments regarding Item E-1 of the agenda.
  • Jeff Cooper submitted comments regarding agenda item in reference to the City Manager evaluation and possible termination.

The following comments were read by City Manager Cloer:
  • Maggie Smith submitted comments regarding the number of shoppers order since April 2, 2020.
  • Casey Bryant submitted comments regarding the number of shoppers order.
  • Jason Selman submitted comments regarding one member per family order.
             
C. CITY MANAGER'S REPORT
             
1. City Manager's Report: City Manager Cloer provided the following updates: confirmed Coronavirus cases for Anderson County and she added that Governor Abbott announced that schools both public and private will not be allowed to re-open to students the remainder of the spring semester but will continue with distance learning; and Thursday, April 24, 2020, there will be an all Spanish Town Hall Meeting with Dr. Jose Tovar and Dr. Marco Peterson at 4:00 p.m.
             
D. REGULAR AGENDA
             
1. Discuss and take action on deferring Hotel Occupancy Tax Payment Emergency Deferral Program effective April 20, 2020. Tourism/Marketing Manager, Mary Raum
Tourism/Marketing Manager 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 April 20, 2020, through June 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. The tax is collected when a room is rented. Council held a discussion.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Joe Baxter to table this item until April 27, 2020, meeting.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
2. Discuss and take action on FEMA grants for City of Palestine.  Interim Emergency Management Coordinator, Mendi Chambers
Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Chambers explained that she is requesting permission to write a grant to seek public assistance from FEMA grants for COVID-19 response. The City will pay upfront and then, the City will be reimbursed at 100% by the grant.

Through this funding opportunity, FEMA will award funding to support planning and operational readiness for COVID-19 preparedness and response, development of tools and strategies for prevention, preparedness, and response, and ongoing communication and coordination among federal, state, and local throughout the response.

The City of Palestine has been allocated funding for a direct award in the amount of $43,832.00 through the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.  The City Council will need to authorize the City Manager to apply for the direct award.
  Motion by Council Member Mitchell Jordan, seconded by Council Member Joe Baxter to move forward with FEMA grants for the City of Palestine.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
3. Discuss and take action on federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding. Interim Emergency Management Coordinator, Mendi Chambers
Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Chambers explained that she is requesting permission to write a grant for Federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding. This is a 100% fully funded grant.
  Motion by Council Member Mitchell Jordan, seconded by Council Member Vickey L. Chivers to authorize Staff to apply for the Federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding grant.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
4. Discuss and take action for response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). City Manager, Leslie Cloer
City Manager Cloer provided an update. She explained that once the County has the 11th cases NETHealth will provide additional data to provide to the community. Council would like to know how many people have been tested in Anderson County.

Council directed the city manager to have a NET Health representative at the next City Council meeting to provide an update.

Mayor Presley spoke regarding the Number of Shoppers Order issued by Anderson County Judge Johnston; he added that he supports the order and explained why he supports it. He informed that Anderson County is following Governor Abbot's order; the order was discussed. TDJC facilities are taking precautionary measures to reduce the spread in the units.

City Manager Cloer clarified that the State is not requiring the residents to wear a mask. Although is it required when visiting a State Park.

Council encouraged everyone to follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask in public.
             
E. CLOSED SESSION
Mayor Presley announced that Council would go into Closed Session pursuant to Texas Government Code, Chapter 551, Subchapter D. The time was 5:46 p.m.
             
1. 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 city manager.
             
F. RECONVENE IN REGULAR SESSION
Mayor Presley reconvened Council into open session at 7:39 p.m.
             
1. Take any action necessary regarding the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee; specifically of the city manager.
No action was taken.
             
G. ADJOURNMENT
With no other business to come before Council the meeting was adjourned at 7:39 p.m.
PASSED AND APPROVED THIS 26TH DAY OF MAY 2020.

Steve Presley, Mayor

ATTEST:

Teresa Herrera, City Secretary

    

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