MINERAL WELLS -- Tuesday was infrastructure day for the Mineral Wells City Council, in both the cyber and public works sense of the phrase.
"We're excited about being able to start building some roads ourselves," Councilman Brian Shoemaker said, shortly before a unanimous council agreed to buy five pieces of heavy equipment that will enable city crews to construct roads as opposed to hired contractors.
The cost is $977,700. The expense was approved in this year's budget and Finance Director Jason Breisch recommended a seven-year loan through First Financial Bank at 2.5 percent interest.
Mayor Pro Tem Doyle Light asked Breisch whether he'd inquired about the loan with other banks. Breisch replied he was "under the impression" the council wanted to do business with First Financial.
Councilman Glenn Mitchell's motion to buy the equipment and authorize staff to negotiate the financing passed unanimously.
The action buys a chip spreader, a patch truck, steel and pneumatic rollers and a 2,000-gallon oil spreader.
The council on Tuesday also committed about $258,000 to buy playground equipment for Southeast Park.
The swings, slides and other elements are disability-friendly and won the recommendations of Mayor Regan Johnson and Councilman Carlos Maldonado, who visited the Wurlix plant nearby to try out the equipment.
"I got to go down the slide," the mayor said. "We played, we played with the equipment."
Maldonado added the product is "very high quality. I think they'll last Mineral Wells a long, long time."
After discussions with Interim City Manager Dean Sullivan, the council agreed to first seek funding through the COVID relief payment the city received or the American Rescue Plan Act before spending money earmarked in the budget for playgrounds.
"This park needs updates," Shoemaker said. "And this is years in the process."
After that vote, the council agreed to develop a comprehensive site plan for the park.
The council on Tuesday also voted to update municipal computer systems, embarking on Phase 1 of a multi-stage security and capability upgrade.
The $297,500 commitment to information technology firm McLane Intelligent Solutions will add an off-site backup in the cloud, the name for an enormous network of computer servers across the country.
The money also will replace computer systems at city hall, including the security firewall and WiFi, and will replace servers at city hall and the library.
The money will come from $400,000 in this year's budget fund balance. The amount leaves the city its recommended three months of reserves in that account, Sullivan later said
In other action Tuesday, the council
* AGREED to increase the monthly lease charged to NextLink for use of the water tower for communications equipment. The company's city bill will rise from $1,820 a month to $1,911 in January 2022.
The action came after Breisch told the council that market price for similar leases would be $2,500 a month. That prompted discussion of reexamining the 2012 lease next year.
"(That will) at least give them some sort of heads up," Councilwoman Beth Watson said.
* AUTHORIZED Fire/EMS Chief Ryan Dunn to seek a FEMA grant to buy a dozen hand-held radios and several truck-mounted radios.
Dunn said the grant provides $48,000 and requires a 5 percent city match, $2,400.
He also said the devices meet state inoperability radio standards, meaning they allow different agencies to understand one another's communications.