City Council Discusses Upcoming Construction Projects and Budget
SAN ANGELO, TX – The San Angelo City Council members met Tuesday morning to discuss 12 pertinent items; among the items discussed were an Improvement Project to the crossing of Sherwood Way and Loop 306, an MLK Transportation Enhancement Project, as well as the second public hearing on the budget ordinance for the fiscal year October 1, 2016 –September 30, 2017. The Budget Manager Morgan Chegwidden also asked for the authorization of the City Manager Daniel Valenzuela to negotiate and execute an amendment to the Meet and Confer Agreement, an issue involving the salary increase to the San Angelo Police Department.
John Dewitt Jr., TxDOT Director of Transportation Planning and Development, presented the Improvement Project to the Sherwood Way and Loop 306 crossing near Lowe’s and Walmart. The new project would give “balance between safety and access along [the given] corridor with an emphasis on optimizing the potential for economic growth.” Major features of this project are:
- a raised median as a means of traffic control;
- two points of access along the North side of Sherwood Way;
- new-mid block signal location lined up with the main entrances of the parking lots to Walmart and Lowe's;
- new city streets will be built, eliminating the Houston Harte Frontage Road, allowing safer access to new community development and the Bluffs located North of the Frontage Rd.;
- optimization of signal phasing through corridor, which would include a provision of a protected U-Turn signal at the crossing of FM 2288 and Southland Blvd.;
- provisions for sidewalks.
The total cost of this new development would be about $3.8 million dollars. Dewitt estimated the pre-construction meetings to begin in the next several weeks, and early construction to begin in the next several months with no impact on the traffic. If the project were to continue, the full construction time period would take around 6-8 months to complete.
The second major project brought to the council was the Martin Luther King (MLK) Drive Transportation Enhancement/Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project presented by Russell Pehl, a City Engineer for Engineering Services. This project is a two-part project, with the first part funded by federal grants. The transportation enhancement project will consist of:
- new sidewalks along the west side of MLK from 7th St. to 29th St.;
- ADA ramps for each of those street intersections as well as ADA elements at intersections;
- striping for bicycle lanes to accommodate bike traffic in the area;
- trail modifications along Rio Concho Drive to allow the trail to be wider to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
The second part of the project is a Street and Utility Reconstruction Rehab Project. This project will allow for the
- replacing and rehabbing of water and sewer mains along MLK street;
- milling and overlaying between 7th St. and 14th St., and 14th through 29th St. will be a complete reconstruction for a new street surface;
- replacing the curbs and gutters to better maintain streets.
The total cost to complete these projects will be an estimated total of $6,387, 088. The council voted 7-0 to accept the project.
A hot topic brought to the council Tuesday morning also included the budget, specifically pay raises of city employees. Police officers are intimately linked to the budget. Morgan Chegwidden, Budget Manager, announced that the budget had been balanced and that only $322,000 remains after the balanced budget. A 6-1 motion was made to approve the budget as presented.
The second item on the agenda was related to the deadlocked outcome from the second Meet and Confer Meeting held last Tuesday between the City and the San Angelo Police Department (SAPD) (see here).
Lisa Marley, Director of Human Resources and Civil Service for COSA, stated that if the City would not find a way to give a pay increase to the San Angelo Police Department and another agreement is not reached “then as of September 30, the entire contract will become null and void.”
Therefore, due to the time constraint, the City asked the Council to give full authority to City Manager Daniel Valenzuela to execute and negotiate the Meet and Confer Contract so both parties can negotiate until the City Council can look at the contract again. The City Manager will not be able to obligate the City to any financial expenditures. Should a monetary agreement come to be during the City and SAPD’s third meeting this coming Thursday, a special City Council meeting will be summoned.
Charlotte Farmer, Council Member SMD6, voiced her opposition to the City Manager’s sole responsibility stating, “It's not good business practice to say, ‘Yes, we’re going to give you a raise, which we need this year to make it to the next year and the next,’ [because] we don’t know what those economic rebound factors are going to be.” Farmer also added, “I am opposed to only the SAPD getting a raise; […] What do I tell the firemen? What do I tell the rest of the staff when we’ve already said, ‘Sorry there can be no salary increases this year?'”
Councilman Harry Thomas, SMD 3, added, “[The] majority of the citizens want to make sure that we take care of the police officers. Having made that statement, the majority of the citizens also don’t want to see a tax increase to make that happen, so while the citizens support the men and women in blue, it’s going to be a challenge for the City staff and council to find a way to pay for those raises.”
Despite Farmer’s opposition, the City Council motioned, in a 7-0 vote, for the City Manager to negotiate and execute amendments to the Meet and Confer Agreement.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for October 4 at 8:30 a.m. at the McNease Convention Center, and it is open to the public. The next Meet and Confer Meeting takes place tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall.