Brookshire City Council discusses construction and staffing at Nov. 5 meeting

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 11/10/20

Brookshire City Council met via teleconference Nov. 5 to discuss address a relatively light agenda. During the meeting, council members accepted the city’s audited annual financial report for …

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Brookshire City Council discusses construction and staffing at Nov. 5 meeting

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Brookshire City Council met via teleconference Nov. 5 to discuss address a relatively light agenda. During the meeting, council members accepted the city’s audited annual financial report for the fiscal year ending in Aug. 2019, discussed an ordinance to require developers to better maintain worksites in the city and another ordinance regarding staffing.

Stephanie Harris, a certified public accountant with the accounting firm Belt Harris Pechacek, delivered the results of a review of the Brookshire’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report – also known as the CAFR.

“We are issuing a clean, unmodified opinion on the city’s financial statements; unmodified being the highest level of assurance we can provide that the financial statements are materially correct, and that all disclosures required by generally accepted accounting principles have been included,” Harris said.

Harris said the city had total revenues for the 2019 fiscal year of just over $4.85 million and incurred expenses of just over $5.37 million for that financial year. The city’s claim fund balance reduced by about $515,000, she said.

“With that being said, the general fund did end the year with a relatively low fund balance of $348,138,” Harris said. “As a percentage of (Brookshire’s) expenses, this was roughly 80% left in ending fund balance and again, the recommendation would be to maintain at least an ending fund balance of 35% of your annual expenses.”

Council members then went on to discuss Ordinance Number 20-681-14 which would adjust portions of the city’s code to require construction bonds and construction site maintenance and repair for some project sites within city limits. The code once finalized will require certain construction projects to include a bond payment that the city could refer to if a developer damages or leaves a mess on city rights of way once a construction project is completed.

Alderman Eric Green brought up several concerns during the discussion that he felt should be added to the ordinance before the council voted on it to ensure it was more comprehensive, noting recent difficulties in the city. Green said trash, general eyesores, blocking of roadways, general worksite maintenance and damage to streets near construction sites were concerns that needed to be addressed in the ordinance.

After discussion, no action was taken on the worksite ordinance except to ask Green to work with City Attorney Justin Pruitt to update the proposed ordinance to account for Green’s requests. The matter is expected to be taken up during the next regular city council meeting set for Nov. 19.

“Instead of approving it tonight, we can work out the specific details of what you want to see in (the ordinance, Alderman) Green, I can get that to you,” Pruitt said. “And then at the next meeting, we can have the final version of the ordinance ready to go.”  

Next on the agenda was a workshop to discuss amending the city budget the current fiscal year to create a separate fund to pay for positions to deal with permitting and code enforcement. Lack of staff in those specific roles has placed the duty on the city secretary’s office, said City Secretary Claudia Harrison.

“I was trying to move along with this so we can have somebody (in those roles) because we’re getting pretty busy,” Mayor Darrell Branch said.

Pruitt said he was concerned with the job descriptions associated with the positions because he felt that the code enforcement officer job description was combined with that of a building code enforcement officer. He added that the two positions have separate skillsets that may overlap but require specific knowledge and skills that do not completely overlap.

As council members discussed the issue though, the decision was made to follow the suggestion of Mayor Pro Tem Marilyn Vaughn to explore the option of outsourcing code enforcement and permitting staff to see if that might save the city money.

“I suspect that what the city really needs is kind of an all-in – if there’s a company out there that do the all-in (but) they may not do the code enforcement type role – but for sure the building enforcement, the building official, that type of job, they can do that for sure,” Pruitt said.  

After input from Pruitt, Vauhn and other council members, city staff were directed to find more information regarding options for outsourcing code enforcement staffing and bring it to an upcoming meeting for review, including a possible procurement for outsourcing.

The next Brookshire City Council meeting is scheduled to be held Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Residents may call in at 346-248-7799 or log in via Zoom using meeting ID 985-2128-2072. As of press time, only two items were on the agenda for the Nov. 12 meeting – the canvassing of voting results for the city’s Nov. 3 election and the administration of the oath of office for newly-elected city officials.

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