Things to know from Tuesday's Sugar Land City Council meeting

The Sugar Land City Council on Tuesday voted to approve a first reading to repeal its ban against mobile device use by drivers, and also approved a number of contracts and budget amendments. Council member Amy Mitchell was absent.

 

“Hands-free” ordinance may be repealed

The council voted 5-0 to approve the first reading to repeal the city’s ordinance outlawing the use of mobile devices while driving that had been adopted in February.

Since then, the state legislature passed House Bill 62, the “No Texting While Driving” bill, which Governor Greg Abbott signed into law June 6. The bill states that it is illegal for a driver to use a mobile device to read, write, or send an electronic message, according to meeting documents.

Sugar Land Assistant Chief of Police Scott Schultz told council members the new statewide texting ban would make it difficult for officers to enforce the city’s hands-free ordinance.

Council member Bridget Yeung abstained from the vote.

“I can’t vote yes for undoing the safety of our city,” Yeung said. 

Yeung did not explain why she did not vote against repealing the ordinance, rather than abstaining.

To officially repeal the ordinance, the decision must go through a second and final consideration before city council, which will take place at a meeting later this month, Schultz said.

 

FY 2017 budget amended

As the city’s fiscal years draws to a close, council members approved amendments to the fiscal year 2017 budget to show up-to-date balances in the city’s various funds, as compared to amounts that were budgeted when the budget was approved.

 








































Fund



Budgeted Ending Balance



Projected Ending Balance



Variance


General Fund

$18,672,216


$19,397,986

$725,770


Debt Service Fund $4,549,376 $4,918,719 $369,343
Water Utility Fund $4,903,743 $4,185,664 -$718,079
Surface Water Fund $9,650,884 $9,836,599 $185,714
Airport Fund $4,585,319 $4,880,276

$294,957



 

General fund revenues are now expected to be $2.2 million less for FY 2017 than budgeted due to declines in collections of sales tax, fines and forfeitures, license and permits fees, and other sources of revenue, according to meeting documents, which peg the decrease to a slowing a economy. Expenditures are also expected to decrease by $2.9 million due to a reduction in transfers to the capital projects Fund.

Revenue and expenses in the water utility fund will end the year lower than expected partly due to lower water consumption as a result of higher rainfall this past year, according to meeting documents.

Airport fund revenues and expenditures will both be lower than anticipated as a result of the decrease in the market price of fuel, according to meeting documents.

Conversely, revenues in the debt service fund are expected to be $26,000 higher than budgeted due to increases in the interest on investments and refunds on bond proceeds, according to meeting documents.

 

Residents sound off on potential tax increase

Seven residents addressed the council Tuesday, with most speaking against increases to the city’s property tax rate.

Hillary Goldstein said raising the city’s tax rate would “add insult to injury” to those who must pay to repair flood damages caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“My point is you have people right now who are literally down and out and you’re going to hit them again, and I think that’s 1000 percent wrong,” Goldstein said.

Nancy Potter said she would support council members if they decide to set a higher tax rate.

“Our property tax [rates] are low,” Potter said, addressing the council. “Our city council has shown its frugality for many years...if you say that we need this increase, I trust you.”

 

City contracts and agreements approved

Council members approved an interlocal agreement with the Brazos River Authority to identify areas at risk of flooding from the Brazos River.

The study could be used for land planning, emergency response, and floodplain management, Senior Engineer Jorge Alba said.

The agreement would require the city to provide matching funds in the amount of $30,000, according to meeting documents.

Other contracts city council approved include:

  • A $350,000 agreement with contractor Precise Services, Inc. for the construction of a water line extension for the Sugar Land Regional Airport

  • A $1.7 million construction contract with LDF Construction for the construction of a new airfield maintenance building

  • A $950,000 contract with water services company Severn Trent for scheduled repairs of waterline breaks requiring excavation

  • A $489,000 contract with engineering and construction company CDM Smith, Inc. to provide consulting and engineering services for the city’s integrated water resource plan, which will be used to provide an evaluation and plan for the city’s water supply and consumption


City Manager Allen Bogard said these projects are primarily funded by user fees and service charges.

 

 
By Renee Yan
Renee Yan graduated May 2017 from the University of Texas in Arlington with a degree in journalism, joining Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July.


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