Houston City Council today voted 11-1, with Helena Brown opposed, to authorize a contract with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the city’s air pollution control program. Listen
“This is an easy ‘no’,” Brown said, arguing that the ordinance would create a “superfluous overlap” in the implementation of environmental guidelines. “Texas and the U.S. government already have air quality standards and pollutants have been reduced significantly in the Last few decades.”
The city council voted 11-1, with Brown opposed, to submit an application to the U.S. Department of Justice for the 2012 Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program Grant Fund.
“It’s ironic that we are here asking Eric Holder for a million dollars for an anti-gang initiative,” Brown said.
The city council voted 11-1, with Brown opposed, to approve an ordinance relating to the retail gas utility rates of CenterPoint Energy Texas Gas. Listen
The ordinance opens a formal gas utility rate inquiry and maintains current rates in effect until changed. Although Brown was the only member to vote against the item, Oliver Pennington raised several issues of concern.
“This is a matter, I think, challenging the rates for CenterPoint Gas Service and I met with the CenterPoint representatives the other day, at my request,” Pennington said. “As I understand it, and gas may be different from electricity, but the city has ‘original jurisdiction’ over rates and then the utility has a right to appeal to the PUC.”
Pennington said that it would be more efficient to not hold a separate hearing at Houston City Hall but to participate in the hearing at the Public Utility Commission in Austin.
However, City Attorney David Feldman noted that the city council action was necessary to have standing in the case in Austin, but he noted that gas rates are not regulated by the PUC but instead are regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission, which he called “one of those anomalies of Texas law.” Listen
Feldman also said the issue is not a request for a rate increase by CenterPoint, but instead is an inquiry being instituted at the request of the Houston Department of Administration & Regulatory Affairs.
“Based on information the city currently has obtained we believe that CenterPoint may be ‘over earning’,” Feldman said. “So, if this process leads to anything it may be a decrease in rates.”
The city council voted 11-1, with Brown opposed, to approve a $240,220.35 contract with Millis Development & Construction, Inc. for Blackhawk Park Phase III.
The city council voted 11-1, with Brown opposed, to approve an ordinance authorizing a loan agreement with APV Redevelopment Corporation to provide $1 million of federal HOME funds to assist with property acquisition and development of a 148 affordable housing community to be located in the vicinity of 4000 Wilmington.
The city council voted 11-1, with Brown opposed, to approve the purchase of part of one lot in a subdivision at 2213 and 2215 Tuam for the expansion of Emancipation Park.
The city council voted 11-1, with Michael Sullivan opposed, to designate the Walter F. Daly House at 2938 Del Monte Drive, the Helm-McDonough House at 2107 Looscan and the D.W. Hovey House at 3395 Del Monte Drive as historic landmarks.
The city council voted 11-0, with Stephen Costello out of the room and not voting, to approve an ordinance consenting to the addition of 38.8874 acres of land to Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 383 for inclusion in the district.
The city council voted unanimously to confirm Mayor Annise Parker’s reappointment of Jazmin Almlie-Ryan and Kathy Ladell Walters to the Houston Commission on Disabilities; and her appointment of Louis J. Maher, Steve Kologinczak, Claudia Magallan and Cornelius K. Booker to the commission.
The city council voted unanimously to approve the FY2013 budgets of Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Museum District Association, Miller Theatre Advisory Board, Inc. and Theatre District Improvement, Inc..
A proposed $395,000 contract with Retirement Horizons Inc. for pension actuarial consulting services was tagged, or delayed for one week, by C.O. Bradford, James Rodriguez and Wanda Adams. Pennington asked the three to lift their tags to allow discussion on the item.
“You want to discuss it two weeks, colleague?” Bradford asked. “You want to discuss it this week and next week?”
“Well, I would just like to see what kind of issues there are,” Pennington said. “I think it is one of the most important items that we have pending and I think discussion is warranted.”
Bradford refused to lift his tag.
A proposed ordinance authorizing the city to submit a request to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to borrow up to $1.8 million of Section 108 Guaranteed Loan Funds and to allocate up to $5.5 million of Economic Development Initiative grant funds to partially finance the redevelopment of the building at 606 Main Street.
The city council held a brief public hearing on a proposal to annex territory on the east side of Lake Houston. Listen
“This project includes annexation of approximately 148 acres of undeveloped land that will be divided into 173 residential lots,” explained Nicole Smothers of the Department of Planning and Development. “The annexation property will be developed as part of a single-family residential community known as the Commons of Lake Houston.”
There were no other speakers on the issue at the public hearing.
All other agenda items were approved unanimously with Mayor Parker and council members Mike Laster, Andrew Burks and Jack Christie absent. Agenda
Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez presided over the meeting.