Here’s a look at routine issues the Paris City Council took care of Monday night

The Paris City Council routinely approves each meeting without discussion routine items that are on a “consent agenda.”

But just because they’re not discussed doesn’t mean there aren’t significant items of interest there.

Among other items approved under the consent agenda were the following:

  • Award a bid to Richard Drake Construction Company in the amount of $130,705.85 to reconstruct certain sidewalks on Bonham Street, Grand Avenue, and Seventh Street between Bonham and Grand. New sidewalks will be built on both sides of Bonham between the Plaza and West 2nd Street; in front of the YWCA on Lamar Avenue; on Grand Avenue. The contract also includes electrical work for four new light poles and drainage.
  • Authorize a 2-year renewal of a professional services agreement with Resource Management & Consulting Company, owned by Charles and Rachel Edwards, to provide administrative services for an anticipated grant from the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs to provide replacement houses for qualified low-income persons.
  • Approve placing a stop sign at the intersection of West Provine and Northwest Fourth streets stopping north-bound and south-bound traffic. A postal truck was recently in a collision at that intersection.
  • Received minutes of the council’s Feb. 11 meeting and of the library, airport and Historic Preservation committees.

The Library Advisory Board was told at its Dec. 19 meeting that a new air conditioning unit had been purchased for $8,500. Library circulation dropped slightly by about 3 percent, and library visits declined by less than 1 percent.

Airport Advisory Board: Board members at their Dec. 20 meeting were presented a copy of the city manager’s strategic plan. Airport director Shawn Napier told the board that Phase I and Phase II of the construction work is complete at the airport. Mayor AJ Hashmi gave a report regarding advertising and future development at Cox Field and said he has looked into building an avionics shop, pain shop and upholstery shop at the airport. Board members said their biggest concern is the need for more hangars. Other suggestions are a plus, they said, but hangars are the money makers.

Historic Preservation Committee: The committee at its Jan. 28 meeting approved a proposal by Eddie Harris to add a 4-foot by 16-foot sign to the roof line on the front of his building at 443 SW 1st St. Approval came by a 4-1 vote, with opposition by board member Ben Vaughan. The committee approved a facade grant in the amount of $2,500 to Colton Wicks for the restoration of the facade of 15 E. Plaza.

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Also on the consent agenda Monday night was finance director Gene Anderson’s monthly report on the city’s finances.

Anderson reported:

  • Hotel occupancy taxes are up 24.7 percent from the same point a year ago. As of Feb. 11, Ramada Inn was delinquent for the fourth quarter of 2012.
  • Sales taxes are up 1.7 percent over a year ago.
  • Permit fees are up 19.6 percent compared to last year.
  • Municipal court fines are down 9.8 percent from a year ago.
  • EMS fees are down 13.7 percent from a year ago, primarily because of fewer runs, no transfers between campuses of Paris Regional Medical Center now that operations of the south and north campuses have been merged, and Medicaid “crossovers” have been eliminated.
  • General Fund revenues are down $3.8 percent from last year. Biggest factors in the drop are lower EMS fees, lower franchise fees, and drops in miscellaneous revenues.
  • General Fund revenues are up 4.7 percent from last year.
  • Sewer revenue is up 1.1 percent from last year.
  • Water revenue is up 6.4 percent from last year.
  • Water & Sewer revenues are up 3.95 percent from last year, and Water & Sewer expenses are up 13.7 percent from last year.

Four months (33 percent) into the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2012, 11 several city departments have spent more than 33 percent of their budget.

Most of that, Anderson said, was the cost that all departments share in the city’s insurance expense. He said he decided to make one annual insurance payment of about $510,000 this year rather than four quarterly payments of about $130,000 in order to get a 2 percent discount amounting to $10,436 citywide.

Included in all the overages shown below for each department are three November pay periods and each department’s share of the large one-time insurance payment. Listed are any other contributing costs:

  • City Council – 73.13 percent. The overage of $41,603 “is mainly due to payments to KSA Engineering for development of a master plan.”
  • City Manager – 35.61 percent, an overage of $7,884 (office supplies, building maintenance, and some new furniture purchases).
  • Police — 35.40 percent, an overage of $110,620 (payment of unemployment benefits, purchase of minor apparatus, building, and grounds maintenance).
  • Fire – 34.71 percent., an overage of $52,914 (overtime, minor apparatus, furniture, promotional exams, and building maintenance).
  • Engineering – 34.51 percent, an overage of $5,490 (office supplies).
  • Public Works – 34.79 percent, an overage of $3,411 (phone expenses).
  •  Traffic & Lighting – 34.69 percent, an overage of $7,296 (electrical cost).
  • Garage – 34.65 percent, an overage of $4,072 (utility costs and electronic data processing expenses).
  • Emergency Medical Services – 34.65 percent, an overage of $23,129 (furniture, maintenance agreement, and associations).
  • Library – 36.04 percent, an overage of $17,598 (postage, books, technical processing, and building maintenance)

By CHARLES RICHARDS

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Charles Richards Charles Richards moved to Paris in 2004 after retiring from a 40-year career in journalism – the last 26 years as a news writer and sports writer with The Associated Press in Dallas and Washington, D.C. In mid-2004, The Paris News coaxed him out of retirement, and he began covering the police, court and regional beat for The Paris News. Then in early 2005, he was switched to coverage of a sharply divided Paris City Council. He was appointed by the City Council in 2006 to the 12-member City Charter Review Commission, which extensively rewrote the outmoded document. His writing awards include two first-place awards in statewide competition for feature writing. The most recent was his 2005 story on a Paris doctor’s startling use of leeches in a successful attempt to re-attach a man’s severed ear. Over his career, Richards’ interview subjects include Alabama Gov. George Wallace, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, David Koresh, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and numerous other political and sports figures. He is an alumnus of Texas Tech, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He lives in Paris with his wife, Barbara, who is retired after 30 years as a teacher and high school counselor.