During Monday’s meeting of the Kaufman City Council, the council members reviewed a presentation on a storm drainage fee increase analysis.

All Kaufman residents are currently charged $3 per month that goes toward the city’s storm drainage fund while churches, schools and commercial properties are charged $3 for each “Equivalent Residential Unit” (ERU) which are measured at $3,500 square feet. The Kaufman City Council is currently in the process of considering raising that fee to $4 to help cope with what City Manager Mike Slye called flooding “hot spots.”

“A $3 fee has been nice to get started with,” Slye said. “You see what has happened on Fourth Street and what’s happening on Houston. That’s being funded by storm drainage fees. And there are places like that all over town. We can sit on our haunches and continue to charge that $3 and over an extended period of time we can start making an impact to our community. A consideration to raise that rate just expedites that process to help us put storm drainage utility in place to affect the hot spots in our community where every time it rains we’re dealing with flooding issues.”

There are currently 1,900 residential accounts paying into the city’s storm drainage fund and they are joined by 253 commercial accounts, eight public schools contributing 837 ERUs, and 28 churches contributing 395 ERUs. If all of those entities paid an extra dollar each month, it would increase the city’s debt capacity for storm drainage improvements by $1.3 million each year.

However, the council is also considering alternatives that exempt some entities from paying the full extra dollar. The city would still pull in $1,080,000 annually if the council exempted churches and schools and $770,000 if the council only raised the drainage fee by $0.50 for commercial properties. If the council chose to cap the increase at $0.50 for all properties, the city would still bring in $693,000 annually.

Kaufman mayor Jeff Jordan requested that Slye provide project costs for various hot spots across the city to help the council make a final decision at a later date.

“I think we can completely make a decision on this if we can couple this data with identifying some of those hot spots and saying to do this project would cost x amount,” Jordan said. 

“We’ve got those hot spots identified in our own minds,” Slye responded. “Our public works guys know every time the weatherman says we’re going to get hit by Mother Nature, we’re doing what we can to make sure the culverts are clear to help alleviate the problem. But even then, that can’t always be done. We can’t just depend on Mother Nature to just be nice to us all the time.

“Storm drainage is a utility. A lot of people don’t recognize that. But the culverts in our community and the pipes and boxes that are underground are all the storm drainage utility just like providing water or wastewater collection services. It’s just as important.”

City Manager Slye also provided a brief update on the downtown streetscape project, which is nearing its conclusion.

“We are nearing the finish line,” Slye said. “We have facilitated the Green Ribbon contractor coming in on the heels of the construction contractor to be able to jump right in and he anticipates 45-60 days doing the landscape and irrigation work around the square.”

The Green Ribbon portion of the project is being funded by a grant. Once that part of the project is complete, the city will hold the grand re-opening of the square with a ribbon cutting.  Slye currently has this grand re-opening earmarked for either July 19 or July 20.

The council also approved a resolution accepting public improvements at 101 South Highway 34 (Marlow’s Truck Stop) and establishing the date for a two year warranty period and accepted two resolutions (though not revolutions) granting the petition for voluntary annexation of private plats of land. One of the plats is a 50.9 acre stretch of land owned by Arlton H. White and the other is a 24.6 acre piece of land submitted by the Kaufman Economic Development Corporation. Both properties are located along the south of East Highway 175 and to the west of Fair Road and the east of the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center. Marcy Ratcliff noted that Mr. White planned on donating 105 acres of land including the 50.9 annexed by the resolution to Trinity Valley Community College.

Finally, the council approved the consent agenda which included the minutes of the November 13, 2018 Joint City Council and TIRZ Meeting, the minutes of the December 17, 2018 regular city council meeting, the February 25 regular city council meeting, the minutes of the March 18, 2019 regular city council meeting, the donation of an unused front and back porch for a portable building to the Child Advocacy Center, a resolution authorizing continued participation with the Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor and authorizing the payment of eight cents per capita to the steering committee to fund regulatory and legal proceedings and activities related to Oncor Electric Delivery Company, and a resolution authorizing the city manager to enter into an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation to temporarily close SH 34 and FM 1388 for the purpose of the annual Independence Celebration Parade, reviewed a presentation by Dennis Sims regarding the Park Master Plan, awarded a bid for the north clarifier repars at the waste water treatment plant in the amount of $58,495 and exchanged Columbus Day for July 5th as a city holiday for 2019.

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