Katy City council approves Capital Improvement Project Fund, meeting streaming services

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 10/26/20

During their 4 p.m. meeting Monday afternoon, Katy City Council approved the implementation of a Capital Improvement Fund and a contract with Swagit Productions, LLC. to set up video streaming …

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Katy City council approves Capital Improvement Project Fund, meeting streaming services

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During their 4 p.m. meeting Monday afternoon, Katy City Council approved the implementation of a Capital Improvement Fund and a contract with Swagit Productions, LLC. to set up video streaming services over the next year for Katy City Council meetings held at City Hall.

“Even if we discuss and decide to move money over from (the general fund) where it’s at now to (the Capital Improvement Project Fund), anything we spend out of (the Capital Improvement Project Fund) has to come back (to council),” City Administrator Byron Hebert said.

Planning ahead

City Attorney Art Pertile III confirmed for Hebert that such would be the case, which would allow the council to continue its oversight of the city’s budget which was amended in order to permit the creation of the fund which will start out with a transfer of $2 million from the city’s general fund to get started.

Council members have said that one of the first priorities for the new fund is mold remediation estimated at $1.2 million for Fire Station One located at 1417 Ave. D in Katy. The station has been closed and firefighters and EMS personnel have been working out of the nearby Fussell Senior Center until the issue can be resolved. The issue was also mentioned as a priority by City Finance Director Andrew Vasquez during an Oct. 22 workshop where council discussed the implementation of the fund.

Other projects that may be paid for through the CIP fund include repaving of the parking lots at the police department, municipal court and library facilities on Franz Road, drainage studies, construction of a fleet building to store city vehicles in and a parks building as well as development of the city’s comprehensive plan.

Current ordinances require the city to have half of its budget as a reserve and the funding being used to start the fund is coming from the amount beyond that half of the budget, city staff said at last week’s budget hearing.

According to city documents, the CIP is a short-range schedule of public improvement projects planned by the city that will generally occur within a three-to-five year period.

The new fund will not eliminate the city’s General Fund, which is what has used as a reserve to date, said Pertile. This CIP fund, combined with policies the council can establish to manage departmental reserve funding, will set the city up to have reserves that it can utilize to plan long term projects with.

Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris said he was glad the plan had been developed and that he appreciated city employee’s efforts to develop a plan that would serve the city’s needs.

“I think we, in the past two weeks, we went from one third of the entire plan to having the complete plan,” Harris said. “This is step one and I think the addition of the other two legs of the (CIP planning) stool really added to it.”

Looking in

The meeting streaming services to be provided by Swagit Productions, LLC. are set to be paid for under the CARES Act, City Secretary Becky McGrew said. The initial cost of $61,730 for equipment and services  is split into $44,600 for hardware, software and general setup and $17,130 for the first year of managed services to stream and produce video content on the city’s behalf.

“This is a company that does (video streaming). They do probably 90% of the cities and school districts that are out there, so we have an opportunity to have the CARES Act kind of pay for the bones of it,” said City Administrator Byron Hebert. “The cameras, the setup, recordings, the audio – we would ask for one year.”

One year of services would garner the city coverage of 24 meetings, Hebert said. This would help minimize the number of in-person attendees while still ensuring city residents could follow the council’s activities.

Swagit is used by Katy ISD, Fort Bend County, Waller County and several other area municipalities.

Council also heard comments on or voted to:

  • Recognize the Katy Police Department for earning its status as a Recognized Law Enforcement Agency by the Texas Police Chiefs Association.
  • Approve minutes of its August and September meetings.
  • Cancel its meetings set for Nov. 23 and Dec. 28 in light of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
  • Approval of final plats for multiple sections in Cane Island.
  • The issuance of $3.6 million in road bonds by the Harris-Waller Counties Municipal Utility District No. 3 for the development of the Cane Island subdivision which is served by that MUD.

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