Public hearings and financial reports highlighted Tuesday night’s Van Alstyne Zoning Board of Adjustments and City Council meetings, which were prefaced by a special Planning & Zoning meeting, .
Susan LaFollett, of LaFollett & Abbott, PLLC, presented the council with the fiscal year 2017 annual audit. There were several suggestions made about ways to better the city’s bookkeeping system, some repeated from previous year’s audits, but were only housekeeping-type, though valuable, suggestions.
At the end of 2017 fiscal year (Sept. 30), the city had a net increase of $5,493,000. over fiscal year 2016. The city also has enough unrestricted net of nearly $1,000,000 which could be used to pay the day-to-day expenses for a 3-month period, should that become necessary. Accordingly, the only department to decrease its revenue was the Van Alstyne Fire Department. The recent signing of an agreement with a nursing home to make their non-emergency transfers with guaranteed pay could increase revenues in the current year. The city has long-term debt of about $11,731,000.
Council members Robert Jaska and Suzon Crowell both commented on the audit. Jaska said since the 2017 release of the former city manager, both the mayor and mayor pro tem acted “in conjunction,” working to address the issue, and he believes this year’s audit should look a lot better.
Crowell commented to interim City Manager Lane Jones that it “seems the department heads are not taking accountability for these,” referring to the suggested changes in the bookkeeping system. Jones said that there will be some training established within the month so that “personnel are knowledgeable and understanding.”
Jones added, “There is finding here [in the audit] that we can’t correct.”
This was unanimously approved.
This year, and previous years’ budgets are available on the city’s Website.
The council also got an update from Vail & Associates, who are conducting a forensic audit. Mike Vail explained that to date they have made an internal control study of the administration and public works departments. The first phase is to look at policy and procedures, then get the council’s input to see what would be more beneficial. There were no questions from the council.
All requests for zoning adjustments were passed with one exception made by Terry Pitts, who asked about the property on which his parents live in a house on one of the two Nunnalee Avenue lots which have previously been platted as one lot. The request was to allow him a variance on the required setbacks in order to let him build a house that meets the 1,800 square foot requirement for new homes.
Crowell made a motion to postpone it for six months in order to give Pitts time to get the property re-platted as the two original lots. The motion was approved.
Also approved were a request to remove the 10 percent masonry requirement for new construction in Cold Springs Industrial Park. Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Jodi Carr said that none of the buildings already constructed there have any masonry on them, and that 10 percent requirement is making it harder to encourage new industry into the park. The council approved thee request for a zero percent requirement.
Also approved was a variance request for land on West Jefferson and west of Douglas Lane.
Crowell proposed that there be term limits set for the P&Z Board. The Cloughs reminded that the EDC and CDC are separate corporations that P&Z. Jaska asked then if another rule would apply, the council’s ability to remove from P&Z without cause. That was clearly answered. There were four for the motion, with Jaska opposed.
The council approved the election votes and announced that the newly-elected officials can call City Hall to set up a time to be sworn in. Later, while the council was in closed session, newly-elected council members Marla E. Butler and Ryan Neal and mayor-elect Steve Riley arranged to have the ceremony at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 11 at the Community Center.
In other action, the council:
• Approved a change in the Parks & Recreation Board’s procedure so that anyone wanting to making changes to any park has to bring that request to the board;
• Required the city manager to provide quarterly financial reports to the city council, beginning the June 12 meeting.
• Made changes to definitions in the zoning ordinance requirements;
• Heard the city manager’s report, including the various city department boards, business and community meetings he attended or conducted during the past month;
• Heard the department heads’ reports,
• Gave their own reports, including those from Clough and Salmon about several school they attended which were well worth the time; and from Public Works saying that a piece of city equipment was hit by lightning last week and that repairs will start on May 23 on Dallas, Fulton and Kaufman streets.
After returning to open meeting from a 35-minute executive session, the council approved an agreement regarding the (unnamed) developer’s land use and infrastructure with Rolling Ridge and with EDC regarding Project Blue Flower. No definition or description has yet been given to that EDC project.