Weatherford Democrat

January 25, 2013

City: new utility fees coming


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH

Weatherford residents will begin seeing the assessed fees from the Storm Water Utility Program in the next few weeks.

Director of Capital Transportation Projects Terry Hughes told city council members at Tuesday night’s regular meeting the fees will begin with the February bills, which go out on Feb. 8, 19 and 27.

Notices on the new fee, which is expected to bring in $800,000 in the first year, were sent out to all residents via direct mail or in with past utility bills, Hughes said.

“The fee will be noted on the bill under current charges: other,” Hughes said.

Residents will be charged $3 a month and businesses will pay based on the property’s impervious areas such as driveways and roofs that contribute to storm water runoff. The city is in the process of developing a Storm Water Master Plan. Hughes estimates there is between $7 million and $10 million in storm drain projects scheduled around the city, which the fee is expected to help pay for in coming years.

Hughes said some of the projects will be under construction within the next few weeks and months. One is the placement of a 36-inch pipe along Ricky Lane, which has had drainage issues for years. Another project to begin soon will be the placement of a 24-inch pipe in the Live Oak/Hilltop Drive area to move water into a nearby creek.

Also on the front burner is analysis of the 150-acre Holland Lake watershed. Hughes said the city needs to develop a strategic plan for the area.

In other news, the city’s finance department received an award from the Government Finance Officer Association of the U.S. and Canada for their exemplary work. Chief Financial Officer Jannina Jewell said the city has received the award for 17 consecutive years.

The council also approved an ordinance which will now require the city manager to live in the city of Weatherford.

A previous ordinance had not required the city manager to live in the city. Present City Manager Jerry Blaisdell lives in the city and has not expressed any intention of leaving.

Council member Heidi Wilder said that she has the belief that “we should all live here.”

“It’s the greatest place on Earth and I believe our city manager should be required to live here,” Wilder said. “He or she should have the commitment to live here and be a part of the community.”

Council member Jeff Robinson said he wondered if the city is limiting itself on candidates for the position, if it became available, by implementing the rule.

“A lot of city managers simply don’t want to live where they work,” Robinson said. “I just want to make sure we’re not limiting ourselves and we get the best possible person for the job, no matter where they live.”

Under the ordinance, the city manager would be given ample time to move to the city, if and when it became needed.

Mayor Dennis Hooks said he didn’t wish to handcuff future councils with the decision, which was approved by a 3-2 vote.