Flood Prevention, Expanding Water Treatment Capacity, Honoring Buc-ees, and Johnny Nelson
CITY OF KATY (Covering Katy News)—The Katy City Council Monday night set a bond election to raise $19.5 million for repair and flood prevention measures needed following Hurricane Harvey last year. The Mayor also honored Buc-ee’s for opening its store to first responders during Hurricane Harvey.
Mayor Chuck Brawner presented an “Above and Beyond” citation to Buc-ee’s senior vice president Richard Sebastian for his company’s efforts in serving first responders, National Guard troops, and rescue personnel during Hurricane Harvey relief operations. The new store was stocked but not yet open to the public at the time. It was used for first responders to eat, sleep and launch operations.
The council chamber was full of firefighters and rescue personnel who came to see the award presentation.
“It’s very humbling, especially with half of the audience being first responders,” said Richard Sebastian of Buc-ee’s.
Sebastian described first responders as the “true heroes.”
Sebastian accepted the award. He was standing in for the company owner, Arch “Beaver “Aplin.
Voters asked to Approve Bonds
The Katy City Council approved putting three bonds on the May ballot.
The first proposition, for $4.25 million, is for street work to elevate the 1st Street bridge and Katy Hockley Road (Avenue D).
The second proposition, for $10.25 million, is for drainage projects for the Fortuna and Pine Forest subdivisions. Phase II of this project is for a detention pond at Pitts Road.
The third proposition, for $5 million, is for expansion of the city’s sewer plant.
City officials have said that a bond would be needed to incorporate the repair and prevention measures following Hurricane Harvey last year.
Ward A Council Member Ray Boothe said the city was not waiting for the bond to start on the needed work. He asked City Administrator Byron Hebert Monday whether the bond money would help refund the reserves. Hebert said yes.
Ward A Council Member J. Gary Jones said he and the council studied the recommendations given for the repair and prevention measures. He said the city wants to solve the problem and that the bond doesn’t affect the city tax rate.
“We encourage you to get behind the bond and support it,” Jones said.
The bond propositions will appear on the May 5 city election ballot.
Council Races on May Ballot
Three city council seats will be up for election. Incumbent Ward A Council Member Ray Boothe is seeking reelection and had not drawn an opponent as of Monday night. Mayor Pro Tem and Ward B Council Member Durran Dowdle is seeking reelection and has drawn an opponent, Sam Pearson, who serves on the city’s planning and zoning commission.
Two challengers, Larry Gore and Chris Harris, are seeking the third council seat now held by Council Member-at-Large Steve Pierson, who is stepping down due to term limits. Gore is a former Ward B council member. Harris is an analyst at the Department of Justice.
Prospective candidates must file paperwork at the city secretary’s office at City Hall. The filing deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.
Future Action – Johnny Nelson
The city council voted to put two items on the February 26 council agenda. One item was for a vote to rename the Katy Heritage Museum in honor of the late former Mayor Johnny Nelson. The other item is to have a discussion about communication issues between the administration and the council.
In other action, the council:
– Passed an ordinance to revise the city employee handbook to authorize and establish vacation accrual limits, halt accrual of vacation time upon meeting maximum accrual limits, and create separate vacation accounts for balances accrued before January 1. In a related matter, the council passed an ordinance authorizing up to $150,000 from reserve funds in lieu of providing compensatory time to compensate those employees required to work on city holidays.
– Accepted an $825 donation for Keep Katy Beautiful that will pay for a memorial bench honoring Dixie McDonald who died last month.
– Adopted a resolution ratifying the fire department’s February 2 application for assistance for firefighters grant in an amount up to $127,700 for ambulance lift systems. The lift systems work with the city’s power lift stretchers to reduce the risk of back and other injuries to city firefighters and paramedics.
– Adopted a resolution authorizing Mayor Chuck Brawner to sign an equipment rental agreement with Spectrum VOIP for the city phone system. In the agenda request made to the council, the new platform offers new features to better serve city departments and citizen requests.
PHOTO CAPTION: Katy Mayor Chuck Brawner, left, awards an “Above and Beyond” citation to Buc-ee’s senior vice president Richard Sebastian for his company’s efforts serving first responders during Hurricane Harvey rescue and relief operations.