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MINUTES
The City Council of the City of Palestine, Texas convened in videoconference meeting on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. for the Work Session, and at 5:30 p.m. for the Regular Meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 504 N. Queen Street, Palestine, Texas, with the following members present:
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; Edena Atmore, Assistant City Manager/CFO; Teresa Herrera, City Secretary; Gary Landers, City Attorney; Lisa Cariker, Human Resource Director; Mark Harcrow, Police Chief; Mark Miears, Development Services Director; Patsy Smith, Parks & Recreation Director; Theresa Holden, Library Director
             
WORK SESSION
With a quorum present, Mayor Presley called the work session to order at 3:31 p.m.
             
1. Discussion and update regarding employee benefits.  Rachel Means, CEO of Employee Benefits Consulting
Rachel Means, CEO of Employee Benefits Consulting provided a summary. EBC conducted the request for proposal for insurance plan renewal rates for fiscal year October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020.  EBC will be accepting proposals for annual insurance benefits between June 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020, for the fiscal year October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021.  Rachel will provide input on cost savings strategies for insurance benefits as we prepare for the plan design for the upcoming year. EBC is proposing one cost-saving strategy that the City could adopt mid-year is:   Employers may offer an individual coverage health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) to reimburse their eligible employees for Medicare premiums, as an alternative to traditional group health plan coverage.
             
2. Discussion of Financial Oversight Committee and Future Projects.  Edena Atmore, Assistant City Manager/CFO
Assistant City Manager/CFO Atmore explained that the following are potential topics for the Financial Oversight Committee review:  City voucher program, credit card fees for online payments, compost facility, utilization of curbside pick-up of white goods (large items) or fees for additional garbage carts. The committee does not make policy; they make recommendations to Council.

Council states that it is not necessary to take these items to the Financial Oversight Committee. Council directed Staff to work directly with Council.
             
3. Discuss RFQ 2020-001 Engineering Services. Parks and Rec. Director Patsy Smith
Parks and Rec. Director Patsy Smith explained that two firms submitted proposals. Staff will evaluate the qualifications received and bring it back to Council to select a firm at the June 8, 2020, meeting.
             
4. Update regarding the demolition or repair of dilapidated, substandard, or hazardous buildings. Development Services Director Mark Miears
Development Services Director Mark Miears presented an update on the substandard program. He has been talking to City Attorney Landers, Building and Standards Chairman Mark Henderson, and Municipal Court to improve the process. Property owners should be fined when properties are not kept to standard.

With no other business to come before Council the work session was adjourned at 5:15 p.m.
             
REGULAR MEETING
             
A.
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Presley called the Regular Meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.
             
B.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The invocation was given by Pastor Dan Manuel, Crockett Road Church of Christ, and was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
             
C. CLOSED SESSION
Mayor Presley announced that Council would go into Closed Session pursuant to Texas Government Code, Chapter 551, Subchapter D. The time was 5:33 p.m.
             
1. Pursuant to Section 551.071:  including consultation regarding pending or contemplated litigation or a settlement offer: discussion and update regarding City of Palestine v. Jerry Laza, Cause No. DCCV 16-359-349, 349th District Court, Anderson County; and Jerry Laza v. City of Palestine, Cause No. 6:17-CV-00533-RWS in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas.
             
2. Pursuant to Section 551.072, deliberation regarding real property: the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property including:  Palestine Mall, Civic Center, and Palestine Athletic Complex.
             
D. RECONVENE IN REGULAR SESSION
Mayor Presley reconvened Council into open session at 7:00 p.m.
             
1. Take any action necessary regarding City of Palestine v. Jerry Laza, Cause No. DCCV 16-359-349, 349th District Court, Anderson County; and Jerry Laza v. City of Palestine, Cause No. 6:17-CV-00533-RWS in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas.
No action was taken.
             
2. Take any action necessary regarding real property including:  Palestine Mall, Civic Center, and Palestine Athletic Complex.
No action was taken.
             
E.
PROPOSED CHANGES OF AGENDA ITEMS
There were no proposed changes.
             
F. 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. All comments must be no more than five minutes in length.
http://cityofpalestinetx.com/government/city-secretary/policies-forms/request-to-speak/

The following comments were submitted and read aloud by Mayor Presley:

1. Agenda Items
  • Sharon Kennedy submitted comments regarding $25,000 funding to BARC.
  • Renee Willis submitted comments regarding Jerry Laza lawsuit.
  • Ruth Majors submitted comments regarding Jerry Laza aka: The Lawnmower Man.
  • Margaret Smith submitted comments regarding the minutes for April 20, 2020 meeting, and the current agenda.
2. Non-Agenda Items
  • AD Etheridge submitted comments regarding Parks Department and Council Member Mitchell Jordan.
             
G. CONFLICT OF INTEREST DISCLOSURES
No action was taken.
             
H. MAYOR'S REPORT
Mayor Presley reported on the sales tax changes in Texas, and he informed everyone that they might receive a stimulus debit card instead of a paper check.
             
I. ITEMS FROM COUNCIL
  • Council Member Loveless provided information on PISD’s Summer Lunch program; she encouraged children 18 and under to take advantage of the program.
  • Council Member Jordan congratulated all the Palestine ISD and Westwood ISD seniors.
  • Council Member Chivers congratulated PISD student, Johnson, on winning the new car and thanked Palestine Toyota for donating the car to PISD.
  • Council Member Baxter congratulated Westwood ISD seniors.
             
J. CITY MANAGER'S REPORT
City Manager Cloer reported on the following: she thanked the educators in our community, TxDOT will be working on bridge projects, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases since Friday, May 22, 2020, Connected Nations survey, 2020 Census, and provided a plan to re-open City building to the public; thanked Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce for planning a parade for the seniors; and welcomed Lisa Denton new PEDC director.

City Manager Cloer informed that department directors were present to address questions from Council regarding reports.
             
1. City Manager's Report
             
2. Library Monthly Report
             
3. Police Support Services P.L.A.C.E. Team Report
             
4. Police Monthly Stats
             
5. Municipal Court Monthly Report
             
6. Financial Monthly Report: the summary page for the utility fund is correct but the chart is incorrect.
             
7. Public Works Project Updates
Council Member Jordan informed the Public Works department of flooding on S. Jackson Street and ditch needs to be cleaned out.
             
K. 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 April 13, 2020. City Secretary Teresa Herrera
             
2. Consider approval of minutes of the Special Meeting of April 16, 2020. City Secretary Teresa Herrera
             
3. Consider approval of minutes of the Special Meeting of April 20, 2020. City Secretary Teresa Herrera
             
4. Consider approval of minutes of the Regular Meeting of April 27, 2020. City Secretary Teresa Herrera
             
5. Consider approval of minutes of the Special Meeting of May 4, 2020. City Secretary Teresa Herrera
             
6. Consider approval of minutes of the Regular Meeting of May 11, 2020. City Secretary Teresa Herrera
             
7. Consider approval of invoices over $25,000. Assistant City Manager/CFO Edena Atmore
             
8. Consider a resolution for a grant for generator, telescope lighting, and flashlights for the Mobile Command Center. Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Mendi Chambers
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Larissa Loveless to approve the Consent Agenda as presented, adopting Resolution No. R-19-20.
  Vote: 6 - 0
 
Other: Council Member Mitchell Jordan (ABSTAIN)
             
L. REGULAR AGENDA
             
1. Consider authorizing City Manager to seek sealed bids for the Palestine Municipal Airport Automated Weather Observation System. City Manager Leslie Cloer
City Manager Leslie Cloer explained that Council had already approved this item at a past meeting. No action was necessary.
             
2. Consider and take action on establishing health reimbursement accounts for Medicare eligible employees as a cost savings strategy for our health insurance plan. City Manager Leslie Cloer and Human Resources Director Lisa Cariker
City Manager Leslie Cloer explained Employee Benefits Consulting (EBC) will be accepting proposals for annual insurance benefits for fiscal year October 1, 2020–September 30, 2021. EBC is proposing that the Council approve the option for establishing a health reimbursement account (HRA) to reimburse eligible employees for Medicare premiums, as an alternative to traditional group health plan coverage.
  Motion by Council Member Joe Baxter, seconded by Council Member Mitchell Jordan to approve the item as presented.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
3. Discuss and take action on the proposed Anderson County Humane Society Agreement. City Manager Leslie Cloer
City Manager Leslie Cloer explained that the Anderson County Humane Society (ACHS) approached the City of Palestine Finance Department requesting if the City would continue $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 Joe Baxter, seconded by Council Member Dana Goolsby to approve the agreement with Anderson County Humane Society as presented.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
4. Discuss and take action on FEMA flood mitigation funding. City Manager Leslie Cloer
City Manager Leslie Cloer explained that FEMA has released additional funding for flood mitigation for existing projects beyond what we are going to receive for our MLK project. The City is requesting City Council's approval to seek flood mitigation funding for the following projects that were recommended by our FEMA grant coordinator as eligible projects: Dallas Street neighborhood flooding project and floodplain management for Steven Bennett Park.  These two projects need to be completed, but if we are eligible for a 75% match of funding and our FEMA grant coordinator is willing to help assist us with the application process, the City should attempt to take advantage of any level of funding we could obtain before they run out of funding for projects.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Larissa Loveless to authorize the City Manager to seek funding from FEMA flood mitigation.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
5. Discuss and take action on Texas Water Development Board flood mitigation funding. City Manager Leslie Cloer
City Manager Leslie Cloer explained that the Texas Water Development Board has released additional funding for flood mitigation for existing projects. The City is seeking additional funding for the MLK project, Dallas Street neighborhood flooding project, and floodplain management for Steven Bennett Park.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Joe Baxter to authorize the City Manager to seek flood mitigation funding through the Texas Water Development Board.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
6. Discuss and take action on fireworks for the Fourth of July to be held on July 3, 2020. City Manager Leslie Cloer
City Manager Leslie Cloer explained that Council has already approved the contract with American Fireworks. City Manager Cloer requests City Council's input on the Fourth of July fireworks scheduled to be held on July 3, 2020, via sponsorship for the total cost of fireworks and city staff overtime.

Council recommends not to cancel the event. No vendor permits will be issued for this event and vendors will not be allowed.

No action was taken.
             
7. Consider authorizing the City Manager to seek proposals for janitorial services for City buildings. City Manager Leslie Cloer
City Manager Cloer explained that the City does not currently have an existing agreement for janitorial services for City buildings.  With the upcoming sale of the Palestine Mall, we need to seek proposals for scope of work for janitorial services.
  Motion by Council Member Dana Goolsby, seconded by Council Member Joe Baxter to authorize the city manager to seek proposals janitorial services for City buildings.
  Vote: 7 - 0 - Unanimously
             
8. Discuss and take action for response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). City Manager Leslie Cloer
City Manager Cloer informed Council that City offices will be open to the public on June 2, 2020. She added that Staff will practice social distancing in City buildings and recommend that every one wear a mask. Open meetings will be limited to 25% capacity to practice social distancing.

Assistant City Manager/CFO Edena Atmore provided an update of the Municipal Court's Guideline per Office of Court Administration. She added that everyone entering the court building will be required to wear face coverings at all times, an officer will use an infrared thermometer to determine the temperature of the individual, and social distancing will be enforced; a maximum of 28 people are allowed in at one time. She recommends that we have one set of guidelines for all City buildings.
             
M. ADJOURNMENT
With no other business to come before Council the meeting was adjourned at 8:23 p.m.
PASSED AND APPROVED THIS 8TH DAY OF JUNE 2020.

Steve Presley, Mayor

ATTEST:

Teresa Herrera, City Secretary

    

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