Council members sworn in after May 5 election
The three candidates who were victorious in May 5 local elections were sworn in to their two-year terms at the start of the meeting.
Andrew Mitcham and Gary Wubbenhorst were re-elected to their positions on Place 1 and Place 5, respectively, after running unopposed.
Unofficial results on election night showed James Singleton defeating Simon Hughes in the race for Place 4 by a total of three votes, prompting Hughes to call for a recount. The results of the recount were identical to the original count—484 to 481 in favor of Singleton—and Singleton was officially sworn in.
Singleton replaced Sheri Sheppard, who did not run for re-election due to term limits. Mayor Justin Ray recognized Sheppard with a service award at the meeting to recognize her years serving on the council.
"This will be the first time since I've been on City Council that I will not have Sheri Sheppard with me," Ray said. "You've worked tirelessly for the community ... for your neighbors and friends, and you've worked very, very hard to make this a great community."
City manager to execute agreement for design of new golf course clubhouse
City Council authorized City Manager Austin Bleess to execute an agreement for design work on a new clubhouse at the Jersey Meadow Golf Course. A review team composed of city staffers unanimously selected architecture firm PGAL as the firm to move forward with on the project.
The council began discussions on building a new clubhouse at a February council meeting after city staff pointed out that building a new facility could be more cost-effective than renovating the existing one. At a March 8 workshop, council members discussed options for the new facility, including adding meeting space and an outdoor pavilion and upgrading the kitchen and bar.
The design contract approved by council is for $189,800. The bulk of the rebuild, which is estimated to cost $1.2 million, would be paid for with hotel occupancy tax funds, which are limited by state law to only be used on projects designed to bring more visitors to the city. The city is projected to have about $780,000 in HOT funds by the end of the fiscal year. The remaining costs would come out of the city's general fund.
Paul Bonnette, principal with PGAL, cautioned City Council that the budget of $1.2 million for the 8,000-square-foot project could be tight.
"I think that’s going to be the first challenge in planning and working to ... come up with a plan the works for the amount of square feet needed for the facility," he told the council at the meeting. "I think the budget is going to be a big challenge, but there are ways we can mitigate that either by designing alternates that can be built, such as additional square footage or additional buildout at the time of bidding, so that if the bids come in at a good number, we can get that built out."
City officials said he would work closely with PGAL to provide early feedback if plans or budget amounts need to be changed.
City takes next step on golf course berm, grey water projects
The Council also authorized Bleess to engage the engineering firm Brooks & Sparks Inc. on two additional projects related to the Jersey Meadow Golf Course.
The first project calls for a berm, or raised barrier, to be built around the golf course to mitigate flooding. The project was identified in a long-term flood recovery plan adopted by the city last year, and $82,000 was included in the budget for the current capital improvement plan for the engineering services.
The second project involves building infrastructure to transfer grey water from the Castlebridge Wastewater Treatment Plant to the golf course for irrigation purposes. Brooks & Sparks estimated the engineering work would cost roughly $99,000, according to documents provided by the city.