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Harris County
Houston City Council
by Jim Guidry with photos courtesy H-TV
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Members of Houston City Council today submitted proposed amendments to Mayor Annise Parker’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013, which will be analyzed by the mayor and her staff and considered for adoption at next week’s meeting. Listen

Among the more controversial amendments were those proposed by Council Member Helena Brown to outsource EMS service, change the city charter to provide for a city manager, rather than a strong mayor, and to default on more than $200 million in contributions due to the city’s three public employee pension systems.

The city council voted unanimously to award the sale of $180 million in tax and revenue anticipation notes to Citibank and Loop Capital following an electronic auction.  The funds are required to cover the gap between the end of the fiscal year and the receipt of tax payments in January. Listen

“Our true interest cost is a little more than 15 basis points, which is about four basis points lower than last year,” said City Controller Ronald Green.  “All told, we will spend about $270,000 on interest.”

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the mayor’s reappointment of Adriana Tamez to the Houston Center for Literacy, formerly the Houston Read Commission, and the appointment of Shelli Mims Lindley to the commission.

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the mayor’s reappointment of Giti Zarinkelk and John Odis Cobb to the Coastal Water Authority Board of Directors.

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the mayor’s appointment of Clyde R. Leuchtag to serve as a part time municipal court adjudication hearing officer.

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the mayor’s appointment of Megan A. McLellan as municipal court judge.

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the mayor’s reappointment of Judge Joshua H. Brockman, Judge Roni M. Most and Judge Berta Alicia Mejia as associate judges of the municipal courts.

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the mayor’s appointment of Kenneth J. Bohan and Eileen Subinsky to the Houston Planning Commission.

On a motion by Council Member Michael Sullivan, the city council voted unanimously to delay for one week award of a $1,234,665.60 contract for ice machine rental services for various departments to Howard Trey Ron Distributors, Inc. Listen

“There are 263 ice machines and this is a $1.2 million contract for ice,” noted Council Member Jack Christie. “One hundred eighty of the machines are used for outside workers; there are 75 machines in this building and for inside (use).  I just think that’s a waste of money.”

The city council voted unanimously to approve two contracts with Blastco Texas, Inc. for the rehabilitation of water storage tanks, but Sullivan left the room during the votes.

Several items were tagged, or delayed for one week, by individual members of the city council.

Approval of the FY 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Program was tagged by Larry Green.  Listen

“There are no projects in my district under the existing CIP as we sit here today, and that’s a problem for me,” Green said.

Other members of the city council expressed concern over the “worst first” policy of the new Rebuild Houston program and its impact on their districts. 

A proposed ordinance authorizing the $11 million sale of property at 801 Gillette Street to the Coastal Water Authority for environmental remediation purposes was tagged by Sullivan, C.O. Bradford, Wanda Adams, Melissa Noreiga and Brown.

A proposed ordinance to increase the maximum amount of a contract with First Southwest Company for financial advisory services was tagged by Brown.

A proposed ordinance appropriating $297,470 for a contract with Gulf Coast Landscape Services, Inc. for Miller Outdoor Theatre irrigation improvements was tagged by Brown.

A proposed ordinance authorizing the creation and execution of industrial district agreements with property owners in and around the Ship Channel Navigation District and Jacintoport areas within the extra territorial jurisdiction of the city was tagged by Sullivan.

A proposed ordinance appropriating $600,000 for an architectural/engineering services agreement with Parsons Environment & Infrastructure Group for job order contracting support for the Houston Airport System was tagged by Green.

A resolution to create the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority was tagged by James Rodriguez.

A proposed ordinance appropriating $343,908 for the purchase of mobile data computers for the Houston Police Department and a request to purchase the equipment from Dell Marketing, L.P. was not received in time for the meeting and thus was not considered for action by the city council.

All other agenda items were approved, but the votes were not unanimous. Brown cast the only votes against several items:

  • A $486,472.24 contract with 3M Cogent, Inc. for fingerprint software, hardware and services for the Houston Police Department;
  • An ordinance appropriating $22,852.95 to purchase a cargo van for the Houston Fire Department and a motion to purchase utility vehicles through the Houston-Galveston Area Council Cooperative Purchasing interlocal agreement;
  • An ordinance authorizing a first amendment and loan modification agreement with The Arrow Project, Inc;
  • An ordinance providing an additional $16,649 in Homeless Prevention Rapid Re-Housing Program funds;
  • An ordinance authorizing a single family home repair contract with Altura Homes DFW, LP;
  • An ordinance providing for continuation of appropriations for the support of the city government, an item related to the FY 2013 Budget; and
  • Two ordinances authorizing contracts with the AIDS Foundation Houston, Inc. which she had tagged last week.

Council Member Stephen Costello was absent. Agenda

At her news conference following the meeting, Mayor Parker announced that the Houston City Gardens are highlighted in First Lady Michelle Obama’s new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.

The gardens, built in June 2010 and located outside the Bob Lanier Public Works Building in Downtown Houston, are part of Parker’s initiatives promoting local food, urban gardens and nutrition.  News Release

“The City of Houston is leading by example, demonstrating how easy and affordable it can be to build a vegetable container garden and eat healthy, which the First Lady has done herself at the White House,” Parker said. “In addition to the health, environmental and economic benefits, the City Gardens create a sense of community for staff, fostering collaboration and teamwork.”

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