Council Told Tourism Building Vandalism to Cost $25,000; City Urged to Go Carefully on Building Inspector Proposal

city-of-jefferson-headerBy BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor

Jefferson Mayor Charles “Bubba” Haggard advised aldermen Tuesday that the March 30 vandalism of the city’s Tourism Building on East Austin Street could cost upwards of $25,000.

“They clogged up the lavatories with paper towels and turned on the water,” Alderman Victor Perot explained. Baseboards and about three-feet of sheetrock must be replaced in several areas of the building.

Police Chief Gary Amburn said officers have an idea who the culprit or culprits may be and an arrest is anticipated soon.

The council also explored the concept of sharing a building inspector with the City of Marshall.

“As fire marshal, I have seen some very shoddy work,” Perot said.

Local contractor Joe McDonald, however, cautioned the council to go slow.

“I don’t think it is a bad idea,” McDonald said, “but the city is not set up to handle the building permit requests.”

McDonald explained building permits in Jefferson require council approval which could delay a construction project for more than a month.

Perot countered that their idea was to have permits where the project would cost under a certain amount available at City Hall without council action. Major projects like a new home construction would still have to go before the council.

“We don’t want to kill construction in town,” Mayor Haggard contributed.

In a related matter, Jeff Keller spoke to the council asking the city to stiffen licensing requirements and enforcement.

“There are jobs being done by unlicensed people,” Keller said.

Haggard urged the council and McDonald to continue to explore the permitting and code enforcement issue with an eye to drafting a formal proposal.

AUDIT REPORT

Jefferson finished fiscal year 2017-2018 with $9.5 million more assets than liabilities according to an audit report given the council Tuesday from Prothro, Wilhelmi and Company.

“We did not identify any deficiencies in internal control that we consider to be material weaknesses,” the report stated.

The audit showed $2.2 million revenue for the General Fund with $861,745 coming from property taxes and $1.1 million coming from other taxes, primarily sales tax. General Fund expenditures totaled $2.2 million, $238,000 less than revenue.

Water Fund sales reached $1.5 million in the budget year with expenses at $918,000.

The council approved advertising for the sale of surplus vehicles, the bank depository, as well as cemetery maintenance and mowing.

Consideration of a new Burn Ban ordinance was tabled for further study.

A Civil Rights resolution in support of a Texas Capital Fund Grant was approved. Mayor Haggard announced the $500,000 grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture to support infrastructure improvements relating to the new CEFCO facility on US 59 had been approved.

Aldermen also approved paying for operation of the Tourism Building from city funds rather than from Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue.

Construction of special event power stations was approved. A funding scheme for the project using park budget money was dropped when Alderman David Westbrook objected. At the suggestion of Haggard, the money will come from the contingency fund as well as itinerant merchant fees. Jefferson Economic Development Corporation will pay half of the project which totaled $6,000.

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