Recap of the Duncanville City Council Meeting – 02/21/2012

Filed under: City |

Council Chambers, City Hall
203 E. Wheatland Road


In attendance:

Mayor David Green
Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cannon
At-Large Member Janet Harris
Member Don Freeman
Member Leslie Thomas
Member Janet Harris
Member Grady Smithey
Member Johnette Jameson

Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor’s Report
Recognition of Visitors / Proclamations / Presentations
Citizens Public Comment Period
[Each speaker will be allowed two (2) minutes to address the council.]

Due to coverage of the Duncanville High School basketball playoffs, we were not in attendance at the meeting and this report is being made using the televised meeting. During election season the Citizens Public Comment Period and the Council Member Reports are not televised and we don’t have coverage of those items. No one spoke during the Citizen Public Comment Period.


IC. Approval of minutes.

2C. Approval of an expenditure in the amount of $64,460 (General Fund) with Dallas County for FY 12 Santa Fe Trail/Joe Wilson Road improvements and Resolution No. 2012-022102 authorizing the Interim City Manager to execute an interlocal agreement with Dallas County for the purpose of reconstruction and overlay of Santa Fe Trail/Joe Wilson Road.

3C. Approval of an expenditure in the amount of $135,000 (General Fund) with APAC for FYl l -12 hot mix asphalt overlay program.

4C.  Approval of an expenditure in the amount of $60,704.72 (CDBG Grant funds – $53,544; General Fund – $7,160.72) with Dallas County for FYl l CDBG Program street improvements to Wren Avenue, Wren Circle and Minuet Lane.

5C. Approval of an expenditure in the amount of $1 01,986 with Postal Pros, Inc. (dba Documents Southwest) for purchase of water bill preparation and distribution servIces.

6C. Approval of Resolution No. 2012-022106 authorizing a cooperative purchasing agreement between the City of Duncanville and the City of Fort Worth.

7C. Approval of Resolution No. 2012-022107 suspending the March 6,2012 effective  date of Atmos Energy Corp., Mid-Tex Division (“Atmos Mid Tex”) requested  rate change to permit the city time to study the request and to establish reasonable  rates; approving cooperation with Atmos Cities Steering Committee (“ACSC”)  and other cities in the Atmos Mix-Tex service area to hire legal and consulting  services and to negotiate with the Company and direct any necessary litigation  and appeals; requiring reimbursement of Cities’ rate case expenses; finding that  the meeting at which this resolution is passed is open to the public as required by  law; requiring notice of this resolution to the Company and ASCS’ legal counsel.

8C. Approval of Resolution No. 2012-022108 ordering the general election to be held May 12, 2012.

Aprobaci6n de la Resoluci6n Num. 2012-022108 ordenando que la elecci6n  general se lleve acabo e l12 de Mayo del ano 2011.

9C. Approval of joint election agreement and election services contract with Dallas  County Elections Department for the conduct of a joint election to be held May  12, 2012.

Aprobaci6n del acuerdo electoral en conjunto y el contrato de servicios  electorales con el Departmento Electoral de el Condado de Dallas para conducer  las elecciones en conjunto que se llevarian acabo el 12 de Mayo del ano 2012.

10C, 11C, and 12C were pulled from the consent agenda for discussion in the regular meeting. Cannon moved from approval and Smithey seconded to approve items 1C thru 9C. Items passed 7-0.

10C. Approval of Resolution No. 2012-022110 amending the Master Fee Schedule to provide new rates for emergency medical services.

Freeman asked this item be pulled because of concerns he has had and phone calls from citizens. Freeman’s concern is in regards to the taxes paid by the citizens and the proposed increase in fees for ambulance calls and cost to pay the collection service. Cannon explains that the council spent one and half hours discussing the reasons behind the changes in a workshop. Fire Chief Dave Giordano explained that Cedar Hill and DeSoto were trying to standardize the fees due to all three cities responding to Duncanville and there would be a uniform cost from all departments. The costs of supplies and ambulances has increased and those numbers are not reflected in the current budget. Some of the increases are due to federal guidelines and a dramatic increase in fuel costs. Citizens due pay for services out of taxes, but other “income” is needed to balance the cost of service. The fire department is requesting a flat fee. The fees have not been adjusted in a three and a half years. DeSoto has already implemented this fee structure and Cedar Hill is scheduled to vote on the 28th of February. Smithey confirmed that Medicare is no longer accepting itemized billing, and will only accept flat fees. Also, if the fee structure is not adjusted then Medicare and Medicaid will only pay the flat fee and will not pay for supplies on an itemized statement. Because of this, any shortfalls will have to be passed on to the taxpayers. According to Smithey, the decision to be made is either adjust the billing system so Medicare and Medicaid will cover the fees or pass the cost on to taxpayers. Green addressed the concern of Freeman about “price fixing” by the three cities. Giordano explained that the three cities are involved in several regional efforts and work together in numerous ways and is very effective. Jameson asked about the rates Medicare was reimbursing. Giordano explained that while Medicare or Medicaid does not cover all of the fees, but that private insurance does pick up the rest. He went on to explain that the three fire chiefs had considerable discussions regarding the need for an increase. Jameson stated that she would like some more time to discuss this due the dramatic increase in rates. The fire chief explained that the fee structure as it stands now is a flat fee, plus supplies and the new structure is strictly a flat flee. Freeman reiterated that most people have additional insurance to cover fees as well. Freeman went on to discuss fees in other cities and other cities cheaper rates. Giordano explained that some these cities are struggling with this and the fee structure they use is a flat fee, plus supplies. Duncanville FD is recommending a flat fee, while other cities are still charging a fee, plus supplies. Freeman recommends that the item be discussed further by the council. Harris pointed out that there are examples of supplies are added to the flat fee. Giordano does not have an average, but on Basic Life Support call the range on the bills he has with him are $549 to $755 (proposed is $825), on Advanced Life Support I is $765 to $946 (proposed is $1,050), and Advanced Life Support II is $990 to $1,144 (proposed $1,200). Giordano pointed out again that the rates had not been adjusted in three and a half years. Smithey asks when Medicare is going or went to these rates, and it was explained that they already have. Giordano also explained that the insurance companies are starting to deny itemized bills. Smithey pointed out that we can either subsidize through taxpayer money, or revise the system so that Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies can help us recover the costs. Jameson stated that she feels some math was missing and was requesting the averages, the collection rate of the new company, and what percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients have additional insurance. Thomas said that she got a call from a senior citizen that raised questions she couldn’t answer and would support another workshop. Giordano explained that the new collection company has only had the account since October and that the new company had to “backtrack” and go on back to recover costs the old company did not. Smithey made the motion to hold a workshop in open meeting, at the next regular meeting, with the information requested. Cannon seconds the motion. Freeman stated he feels that the next meeting may be too soon and would like to postpone to give time for more information to be gathered. Smithey says that if the fire chief doesn’t have the numbers by the next meeting, then he’ll be glad to postpone it again, but everyday that we don’t make these changes then it will cost taxpayers more money. Motion to postpone to the March 6 meeting passes 7-0.

11C. Approval of EMS Transport Billing Waiver Policy.

Thomas moves to postpone to the next meeting, with Smithey seconding. Harris suggested that certain parts of the program be bolded. Motion passes 7-0.

12C. Approval of Ordinance No 2172 amending the Code of Ordinances Appendix A,  Zoning, and the zoning map to provide for a Specific Use (“SU”) Permit to allow  a communication tower on property zoned General Retail (“GR”) on a 0.0124  acre, more or less, portion of Lot 12, Woodland Hills Addition, more commonly  known as 610 East Highway 67; providing severability, repealing and savings  clauses; providing a penalty of fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000)  for each and every offense; providing an effective date; and providing for the  publication of the caption hereof.

Smithey made the motion for approval and Cannon seconded. Jameson had to recuse herself because of ownership in stock so she had to leave the chamber for the vote. Motion passed 6-0.


13. Provide councilmembers and city staff an opportunity to discuss Thumbs Down articles in the January 26, 2012 edition of “The Suburban Newspaper” pertaining to city water line on North Main Street and “speed bump” on southbound Cockrell Hill Road.

Cannon asked for this item on the agenda. Cannon stated that items printed in the paper do not always cast the best light on the city and city staff. Steve Miller was asked to address the “speed bump” on Cockrell Hill Road in front of the Red Lobster. Miller stated that the city had a work order in November 18, 2011 to fix the issue, but due to the holiday it was not fixed until January, with all barricades removed January 20, 2012. The article was printed on the 26th, after the issue had been repaired. Miller when on the explain that the pavement was 4 years old and expansion and contraction had buckled. That the repair work did not create the bump, but the city was repairing the issue.  The repair took longer due to the repair needing to be made in all three lanes. The water line in question was a 24” flush line that has a 2” flush line to insure the quality of water to our storage tanks and costs the city nothing. This issue was repaired on the 24th of January, also before the article was printed in the paper. Jameson stated that she would like to hear from the newspaper. Lisa Bradley from the Suburban Newspaper stated that she was contacted by a citizen who took her down there and showed her the leak. Bradley did call the city and report it. Bradley stated that she received the e-mail from a citizen on the issue on Cockrell Hill. Jameson then asked if the work order was issued in November and the work completed in January and expressed concern on the time it took. Miller explained that the concrete poured takes a week to cure before cars can drive on it, that was the reason the decision was made to delay the repair until after the holiday season. Thomas quoted Benjamin Franklin, “Never get in a war of words with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” We know we have great city services. Thomas was concerned about the calling out of citizens by a council member over something so trifle. Freeman stated that we have more important things to take care of. Smithey asked Lisa Bradley if on the “thumbs down” if they investigate any of the issues they are notified about. Bradley said that Cannon could have called her and she would have discussed this with him. Jameson called for a point of order vote over Smithey asking Bradley to follow-up. Cannon explained that the only reason he asked for this to be discussed was that allegations were made that cast the city in a bad light, and wanted to give the citizens to hear an explanation. Jameson stated that the calls were the perception of two citizens. Citizen Wesley Jameson agreed that the normal course would be to address the matter by writing a response. Citizen James Hubener states that he believes that this is just citizens submitting their concerns. Sometimes people perceive things are not accurate, and that he believes this was a bully process when this was addressed at the council meeting.

14. Receive Police Department public safety report.

Police Chief Robert Brown made the presentation.  Chief Brown will be addressing Part I crimes as designated by the FBI (murder, sexual assault, aggravated assault, arson, robbery, burglary, theft, and auto theft). In 2011 there were 78 fewer crimes than 2010, and also less than what occurred in 2009. The reduction in Part I Crimes between 2011 and 2010 was a 4% drop. The city is divided by Main Street and Wheatland Road. The northeast and southeast sections saw an increase, while the other two saw a decrease, with a substantial decrease in the southwest section of the city. There was increase in animal control calls, but a decrease in overall police calls. Two vacant positions are frozen and are the only vacancies currently in the department. The Santa Cop program assisted 25 families and 74 children during the holidays. Thanked Chief Brown for his report and for the work done in the Santa Cop program. Freeman asked about the outstanding warrants and the number, but Chief Brown did not have that number. Freeman asks about using Citizens on Patrol to call outstanding warrants, and Chief Brown believes that is being done to some extent

15. Recess into Executive Session pursuant to G.C. Section 551.074, Personnel Matters, to deliberate appointments of municipal judges.

This was taken care of in workshop

16. Consider appointment of Municipal Judges for a two-year term expiring February 2014.

Smithey moves that reappoint Bill Neilon, Kent Traylor, and appoint Karen Beverly to two year terms effective March 1, 2012. Seconded by Don Freeman. Passed by a vote of 7-0.

17. Discuss and direct staff concerning expenditures, gifts, donations and any other means of transferring City resources and anything of value owned by the City to an individual, association or corporation.

Smithey asked a legal question for the attorney. He asked if this in conformance of the Open Meetings Act if no backup material was given on such a general policy. The attorney stated that if this was to address a general policy and not specifics, then the notice was sufficient. Thomas requested this item and gave a presentation. Thomas believes that there has been illegal transfer of public money to private entities. Thomas started by quoting Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, and the Texas Constitution Article III, Section 51, and Section 52. Also Article XI, Section 3 of the Texas Constitution. Thomas stated that her purpose was to prevent local governments from giving public assets to private entities where no public purpose is being directly accomplished. She does feel that this is not a strict prohibition because expenditures are not invalidated for an expenditure for a legitimate public purpose. Thomas went on to state that Texas courts and the Texas Attorney General give guidance on the parameters and process of legally transferring city funds to a private entity. The city council must determine that such an expenditure serves a legitimate public purpose, that it manifested in a properly posted agenda item, and debated publically. That the city places sufficient controls on the transaction to ensure that the public purpose will be carried out. That the City Council votes on the proposed expenditures in a public meeting. Thomas went on to state that she has seen reimbursement by the City of actual expenditures by a private entity, use of city space, use of city assets, and reimbursement for a private citizen to travel. These would have all passed, but Thomas says that these should have come before the council. Thomas purposed a resolution to bring all such expenditures before the council. Green states that he has a problem with resolutions being presented blindly and expected to vote on the matter. Thomas stated that she wanted this to done deliberately and voted on fairly. Jameson seconded. Jameson asked the city attorney if this was simply stating the law. The attorney states that the agenda doesn’t state there is a resolution to be voted upon, but it can be made as a motion instead of a resolution in order to fall within the Texas Open Meetings Act. Thomas withdrew the resolution and moved that the City Manger be directed to direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance to act as a policy. Jameson seconded. Cannon states there are mechanisms already in place to govern how assets of the city are dispersed. Interim City Manager Jeanne Fralicks stated that there are numerous policies in place. Cannon questioned why these types of items are being placed on the agenda that suggest there are blanket statements implying that things are “running amok”. Cannon suggested that the council look at all the policies in place and determine if improvements need to be made. But, not to continue to have these types of things sprung on the council. Cannon stated that it was disturbing to the council going down this road. They need to look at what’s in place. Freeman suggested putting the item on the next agenda for discussion before voting. Smithey pointed out that the audit committee and the annual city audit have yet to find any misdeeds or wrongdoings. The annual audits usually give suggested improvements, but nothing grossly illegal, according to Smithey. Smithey also asks Thomas to give the council sufficient notice of all the background on any items. Smithey suggested tabling the items for a workshop to discuss the policies that we already have. Thomas stated that she didn’t anticipate the council would vote tonight, that it would have been discussed later. Thomas withdrew her motion, and moved to place it on the next agenda. Jameson stated that this is law and that we recognize it and are going to comply with it and that she can think of several examples. Green stated he would like to know what these items are. Cannon asked Thomas if she has discussed this with Interim City Manager Fralicks. Cannon suggests Thomas sit with Fralicks and discuss the particulars and get all the policies so that we can have all the information for the next meeting. Jameson stated that there are things going on and she has talked with Fralicks and former City Manger Kent Cagle. Green stated that again he would like to know exactly what Thomas and Jameson are eluding to.

18. Councilmember Reports – Items of community interest regarding which no action will be taken, as authorized by Section 551.0415 of the Government Code.

Due to coverage of the Duncanville High School basketball playoffs, we were not in attendance at the meeting and this report is being made using the televised meeting. During election season the Citizens Public Comment Period and the Council Member Reports are not televised and we don’t have coverage of those items.