Hamilton City Council last Thursday raised water rates, approved purchase of a new meter reading system, signed an agreement with Hamilton Independent School District for a school resource officer and gave the go-ahead for work to begin at Hamilton Municipal Airport.

Ann Whitney Elementary student council president Joseph Polster came before the council to present a certificate for 15 bags of dog food for the City Animal Shelter on behalf of AWE students, who had collected money over the year and chose the shelter to receive it.

City administrator Pete Kampfer reported that work on the municipal pool is under way and introduced Kimberly Kaczmarczyk, who will be the pool manager for the summer. In addition, eight lifeguards are hired and will have training updated in time for the pool to open.

Kampfer also introduced Kelly Finley, the city’s new code, building and animal control officer, and Joseph Brumbalow and Clay Boatwright, new employees in the water department.

The council ratified the results of the May 4 election in which incumbents John Galindo, Henry DeLeon and Beverly Gilstrap were re-elected.

The water rate increase was approved because the current rate is insufficient to fund the expenses pertaining to the utility fund for delivery of water for the citizens of Hamilton.

A fixed monthly charge will be based on meter size, with meters inside the city limits ranging from $5.75 per meter for one-inch meters, up to $10.75 for six-inch meters. Outside the city limits, the rates range from $6.75 to $11.75.

“We’ve been talking about this for several years now and it’s time to move forward and get it done,” said Gilstrap.

The council appointed a committee in March to negotiate a contract with HD Supply Waterworks for an automated meter reading system.

“Ultimately, the city desires to enter into a contract that will provide the best value to citizens,” Kampfer said.

HD Supply will work closely with the administrator, staff and council as well as provide community information for the project, which is estimated to be completed in September.

The Neptune meters have a 20-year battery life and are made in the USA. They will accurately measure the lowest flow rate, and are equipped with indicators to troubleshoot leaks, backflow situations, communication issues, no-flow conditions and battery status.

They also have a comprehensive data logging feature that can retrieve the last 96 days of hourly reads from the meter’s radio and allow the resulting consumption profile to be used for detecting water loss events.

“As the new meters go in, water sales will go down,” Kampfer said. “We are trying to save money on wholesale water purchase, which will also go down.”

“We are actually behind budget on water sales,” said Mayor Mike Collett, “so we will experience further decline. I can see where we will have an adjustment to work through.”

Kampfer said there are other factors to consider.

“There will be a labor reduction because we won’t have two guys working a week reading meters,” he said. “That’s 80 hours of work. I’m excited about kicking it off.”

After approving the purchase, the council also approved a finance agreement with Government Capital Corporation.

The city has been in discussion for several months with the school about establishing a school resource officer to reduce and prevent crimes committed by juveniles and to promote the safety of children.

The uniformed police officer will be assigned to campus while school is in session and will present a positive role model for students and provide safety for students, faculty, staff and others involved with the district.

Kampfer added that working with the hospital to provide security laid the groundwork for how the school position will work.

“There’s been a lot of thought and intentional effort,” he said. “We are excited about it. It’s a positive way to project the image of law enforcement with the school system.”

The candidate will be trained over the summer and beginning the new position in August when school starts, he said.

The council approved a second reading of a resolution authorizing the City of Hamilton Economic Development Corporation to expend 4b tax funds for infrastructure improvements at Hamilton City Airport for the pavement project.

The project will include engineering, apron rehabilitation, marking and entrance road resurfacing.

A Texas Department of Transportation grant will fund the majority of the project with the city responsible for 10 percent of the $204,000 estimated cost. The council has committed $21,000 of street department funds, and the EDC is committing $33,435 of 4b tax funds to the effort.

Council members also approved an increase proposed by Atmos Energy, which will raise the bills for customers with average use by about 8 percent, or $2 per month.

The council OK’d policies, procedures and application for standing boards, commissions and committees in order to allow more people to become involved in city government.

Each board will be composed of five or seven members appointed to serve at-will by the council. Citizens may apply for open or vacant positions and recommend prospective members for boards. The council will interview and approve applicants for placement.

Those interested in appointments should have no delinquent indebtedness to the city, no family relationship within second or third degree to any member of the council or the administrator, no conflict between private and committee interests and duties, and minimum 75 percent attendance of meetings.

The council approved term limits for boards and committees with each appointment lasting two years and limited to two terms, after which the board member must not serve for at least one term before applying for reappointment.

Among the city’s boards are the board of adjustments, parks and recreation, planning and zoning and EDC.

“I like this because it is open to the public and not just one group or organization picking who they want to come in,” Gilstrap said. “I would love to see more people in the community interact and get on these boards.”

The council approved the appointment of Jim Summers to the Upper Leon River Municipal Water District and Charlotte Wenzel to the local housing authority board.

Police chief Robert McGinnis said his department received 125 calls for service in April, 10 of which resulted in criminal arrest. His officers issued 98 citations and warnings during the month.

Regarding code compliance, 22 owners were notified of high grass, of which nine have been corrected. Five were notified regarding junk vehicles, of which three have been removed. Nine code compliance cases have been referred to municipal court, and nine cases are pending.

McGinnis said there were five animal control incidents including one animal bite. Five animals were impounded, and two remain at the shelter. One owner was cited for animal control violation.

“Animal control has taken a step up because we’ve had a lot of complaints,” he said.

“We’re not ruling with an iron fist; we want to work with people to try to take care of it.”

McGinnis also gave a shout out to Hope House, which helped a family that was cited for their yard.

“They hauled five truck loads to help the couple clean up their lot,” he said. “The couple is happy, the neighbors are happy, and we thank Hope House for their help.”

In his administrator’s report, Kampfer said he wants to discuss electronic banking for the city.

“Most big cities are no longer issuing paper checks,” he said. “The more they do electronically, the less defrauding. They highly recommend it.”

He said pool preparation also is ongoing. He has worked so closely with the project that he slid into the pool and came out covered in wet blue paint.

The lifeguards are hired, with three to be trained before opening, and admission will remain $2.

Kampfer praised city secretary Ryan Polster who initiated paperwork with ISO to improve the city’s local fire safety rating, which reduces the insurance risk rate for the community.

“Apparently we hadn’t done that in quite some time,” said Collett, “and there are a couple of areas where with a little bit of effort we might be able to further reduce the rating and further improve our premium. We want to make sure and push premiums down as far as possible.”

Kampfer told the council the city passed its Texas Commission on Environmental Quality inspection for the water and wastewater supply. He said there was one irregularity where a small trace amount of ammonia was discovered from existing pipe structure from Proctor. Kampfer said it has been fixed.

He added that someone had taken down fencing at Horton Park to put in a batting cage, but there can be no fence removal or signs removed.

“It’s a federal violation,” he said. “In order to fit in the batting cage, we put in a new fence with appropriate barbed wire.

“So, we had two small redactions, and we fixed them. But we passed the inspection.”

In closing, he said he has had interest expressed in an 18-hole disc golf course, which he will bring forward at the next council meeting.

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