Brookshire City Council approves grant consultant, calls election at Jan. 21 meeting

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 1/25/21

In a somewhat tumultuous Thursday evening meeting, Brookshire City Council approved agreements with GrantWorks, a consulting firm that helps municipalities such as cities obtain community development …

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Brookshire City Council approves grant consultant, calls election at Jan. 21 meeting

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In a somewhat tumultuous Thursday evening meeting, Brookshire City Council approved agreements with GrantWorks, a consulting firm that helps municipalities such as cities obtain community development block grants. They also approved an agreement with Brookshire Fire and Rescue and called for a city council election for May 1.

“This is simple. I mean, this is the basic ordering of (Brookshire’s) general election for mayor and to aldermen and the public just needs to know that all the election information is posted in this and … all the proper notices will be sent out,” said City Attorney Justin Pruitt of law firm Olson & Olson, LLP.

The May 1 election will see Mayor Darryl Branch’s seat on the ballot as well as Alderpersons for positions one and two, currently held by Mayor Pro Tem Marilyn Vaugn and Alderman Lyndon Stamps, respectively. Alderwoman Kim Branch, Alderman Lee Jones and Alderman Eric Green will not be facing reelection campaigns in May.

CDBG management

After a somewhat drawn-out discussion, GrantWorks, a company based in Austin will be assisting the city in applying for community development block grants. CDBGs are grants that assist cities with disaster recovery, community development, community planning and similar issues.

The conversation was extended because the committee chosen to select the grant partner did not reach a consensus to recommend a vendor to City Council prior to presenting the item at the meeting. The committee — which included Green, City Secretary Claudia Harrison and Harrison’s Assistant Lakethia Connor — eventually shared each of their respective opinions regarding bids from GrantWorks and Taylor and Associates.

Green said he favored Taylor and Associates for one of two contracts the city was considering with his main reason being that the city has worked with GrantWorks and some new ideas and competition would push GrantWorks on providing higher quality of service if they knew their exclusive position was not secure.

Harrison and Connor said they would like to stay with GrantWorks whom they felt had provided excellent service to the city in the past and had the higher scores in the assessment process.

In the end, council went with GrantWorks for both contracts. The first is for the 2021-22 Texas CBDG Community Development Fund application and implementation administered under the Texas Department of Agriculture. The second agreement GrantWorks was awarded was to service grants for the 2021 Texas Capital Fund Downtown Revitalization/Main Street Program of the Texas Community CDBG Program for application and project implementation.

Fire issues

An agreement with Brookshire Fire and Rescue was approved after council debated whether the issue might open the city up for potential lawsuits as suggested by Alderwoman Branch. However, Pruitt said, as the city attorney, he felt confident the agreement would not open the issue up to litigation.

“There’s no contract between (Waller-Harris ESD 200) and Brookshire Fire Rescue, you’re still allowing Brookshire Fire Rescue as a volunteer fire department to use your property, trucks equipment – that kind of stuff and buildings so that they can do training and just, you know, whatever needs to be done so that when that day comes they’re ready to support the ESD,” Pruitt said.

Jones shot back at Alderwoman Branch’s concerns, accusing her of owing $6,000 to the city, though it was unclear where he obtained any information about such a debt and Branch denied the accusation.

The agreement was eventually approved to allow Brookshire Fire and Rescue to utilize the city’s fire equipment to conduct training and other activities in support of fire prevention in the city. However, members of the council and the public have pointed out that Brookshire Fire and Rescue, of which Stamps is a part, , does not currently provide fire protection services to the city. Instead, those services are provided by Waller-Harris Emergency Services District 200 which has an agreement with the Brookshire Volunteer Fire Department for that purpose.

The agreement will allow training of staff and volunteers at Brookshire Fire Rescue, including a 2021 Fire Academy Program. Only Alderwoman Branch voted against the measure.

Other items:

  • Council members approved meeting minutes for the Nov. 19, Dec. 3 and Dec. 17 meetings held in 2020.
  • Council members approved paying invoices and accepted city staff’s monthly reports.
  • Approved an update to the city’s drug and alcohol policy.
  • Approved a meeting with Mayor Darryl Branch and leaders of the Brookshire Municipal Water Diestrict and the Brookshire-Katy Drainage District to update and simplify the city’s permitting process.
  • Authorized further steps to move forward with hiring a person or firm for code enforcement, hiring a city engineer and a building official as well as developing appropriate job descriptions for those positions.

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