Breckenridge Texan

City Commissioners move to update local fees, approve other agenda items

City Commissioners move to update local fees, approve other agenda items
December 15
12:22 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

The Breckenridge City Commission approved several changes to the city’s fee schedule at their meeting last week, and several of the adjustments could mean reduced fees for local residents. The commissioners also passed several other items related to city business.

City Fees

The commissioners approved the first reading of Ordinance 22-01, which repeals and replaces Ordinance 21-11, establishing a General Fee Schedule for the city. The second reading and request for approval will be on the January 2022 agenda.

The fees affected by the ordinance include those regarding the city park usage, dog licensing, waste roll-offs, city cemetery, utility bill payment, and sewer service fees.

“Upon being hired here, and starting here…I realized that the fee schedule was not a part of the ordinance,” said Erika McComis, City Manager. “So we worked on that. But in looking it over, I realize that some of our facility rentals, pool fees, some other fees just weren’t included in there. And so we put that together.”

Although the City has traditionally charged usage fees for anyone wanting to reserve the swimming pool, park pavilion and trade barn for private events, the fees were not included in the official fee schedule. The ordinance establishes a fee schedule for those facilities and will also allow for a waiver of the facility rental fee for nonprofit entities.

According to the ordinance, the following park fees are proposed:

  • Park Pavilion and Trade Barn Rental — Daily Rental Fee $50 with a deposit of $100. The deposit will be returned to the renter upon leaving the facilities in an appropriate condition, to include but not limited to all trash picked up, lights turned off, doors locked and restrooms satisfactorily cleaned. Nonprofit organizations may request the rental fee be waived for the facility; however, the deposit shall be required.
  • City Pool Per Session Fee — Ages 4 years old and up, $3; ages 3 years old and under, free; child care facility with prior approval from Public Services Director, $2. The pool may be rented at the following rates: 1 to 90 people per hour fee $100; 91 to 120 people per hour fee $120; and, 121 to 140 people per hour fee $140.

The changes to the fee schedule also allow Breckenridge Police Chief Bacel Cantrell to waive the $10 annual dog license fee when an impounded animal is picked up by its owner.

“Chief Cantrell has done a good program there with the animal control, and a lot of times if we take in animals, we really want to get those animals back to their owners. And sometimes they don’t have the money to pay the fees that are associated with that, and one of the fees is the animal licensing,” McComis said. “And so this gives him the ability to, if he needs to, waive that animal license fee. It’s a possibility that he won’t charge that fee at all, but if he sees that the fee is necessary, in the future, for the operations of animal services facility, then he can start that back. But his goal really is to return animals to their owners and not keep them in the facility.”

In addition to the license fee, the owners of impounded animals are charged other fees, including a $15-20 pound fee and $10-15 per day boarding fee, depending on the animal, as well as potential veterinary charges and other fees.

The new ordinance also reduces the cost of a niche in the columbarium at the Breckenridge Cemetery and adds in a charge for engraving. The columbarium is a structure with niches to contain cremated remains.

The fee for a columbarium niche has been reduced from $725 to $400. An optional engraving fee of $125 was added to the fee schedule.

A couple of water-related fees are affected by the new ordinance. Once passed, the ordinance will allow customers to request a waiver of late fees if they have an account that has been paid on time for a 12-month period. Additionally, it will allow for the removal of sewer service fees for meters that are installed for irrigation purposes only.

“If someone has paid on time for 12 months and all of a sudden has a late fee, this allows the (city) employees to waive that late fee,” McComis said.

In a separate ordinance, the city commissioners approved the addition of a Municipal Court Technology Fund and providing for the assessment and collection of a Municipal Court Technology Fee.

“This fee is typical for courts to have, along with a court security fund, a building security fund, and then you have a court technology fund,” McComis explained to the commissioners. “And so what this will do is help pay the annual fee that we pay to Encode to run the software system for the citations. It’s $4 for each ticket that a fine is assessed on, and it’s just automatically done when they pay the fee. … It’s just a typical fee that’s collected that I was surprised that we did not do that.”

Chamber and BEDC

BEDC Executive Director/CEO Colton Buckley talks to the Breckenridge City Commission about upcoming changes with the BEDC and the Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The commissioners approved a request by the Breckenridge Economic Development Corp. and the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce to increase the amount of funds the BEDC contributes to the Chamber each month.

BEDC Executive Director and CEO Colton Buckley attended the meeting and explained that, pending final approval of the two entity’s boards, the BEDC and the Chamber will be merged under one leadership model that will include the CEO/Executive Director, a Director of Operations and an Office Manager.

The BEDC currently contributes $648 per month to the Chamber in salary support for a Chamber employee to also serve as the administrative assistant to the BEDC director. Under the new structure, the BEDC will contribute a little more than $22,000 over the next 10 months.

“It gives some financial support to the chamber, as well as some oversight for myself, but it really beefs up the EDC in terms of support staff,” Buckley said.

Creek and Streets Update

Public Works Director Houston Satterwhite addressed the commissioners and gave an update on the condition of Walker Branch Creek, as well as on the local work that’s being done to repair city streets.

Breckenridge City Commissioners Vince Moore and Gary Mercer, along with Mayor Bob Sims, listen to a report by the public works director during the Dec. 7 meeting. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Earlier this year, the city hired Rent-a-Ruminant, a herd-for-hire business, to clear out the brush along the creek that runs through the west side of Breckenridge. The goats ate all of the non-woody brush, but the thick river cane is too thick for the goats to handle. Therefore, city employees have been going into the areas cleared by the goats to finish dealing with the cane.

The city will use a chemical retardant that can be applied and doesn’t require an application license to help control the brush. If effective, the chemical will stunt the growth of the river cane, Satterwhite said.

Regarding the streets, Satterwhite said the city has had trouble obtaining asphalt to repair the roads and has switched to a different vendor and product that they have been using recently to patch potholes.

“We’re able to use it in cooler weather,” he said. “It’s shown to be a time saver; you don’t have to put the tar in it and it’s easier to work with. It’s messy as can be, but seems to be working. The crews like it, and it’s packing good.”

Retirement system

Another ordinance passed by the commissioners will allow former City employees who have withdrawn from the Texas Municipal Retirement System to regain credit for the time that they had worked. Although they will not provide them with any past funds that were in their account, they will be able to use the time to get vested or retire sooner.

“I think this is very good, because this may bring some people back in here,” Mayor Bob Sims said.

Other Business

Also during the meeting:

  • McComis announced new titles for two City employees. Diane Latham is now the Deputy City Secretary and the Finance Director, and Heather Neely is now the Accounts Payable and Human Resources Coordinator.
  • Commissioners approved a resolution supporting the allocation method for the opioid settlement proceeds that the city could receive, which is estimated to be almost $24,000 from the settlement.
  • Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the use of an engineer to assist with planning and execution of projects to be done with the funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

 

Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge Public Works Director Houston Satterwhite gives the City Commission an update on the maintenance of Walker Branch Creek and road repairs within the city limits. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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