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Council sets minimum bids on commercial lots

by Dolores Hamilton
Two executive sessions were on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the Iowa Park City Council. Following the first closed session to discuss the value and sale of city-owned properties, the council voted to require a minimum bid of $15,000 for the commercial property on E. Jefferson, and $10,000 for the commercial property on FM 368 S.
At their meeting on Jan. 11, the council agreed to advertise for sealed bids on five city-owned residential lots and hold a live auction for the two commercial properties.
Purpose of the second closed session was to conduct the annual evaluation of the city manager. When the council returned to open session, it was announced that City Manager Jerry Flemming meets or exceeds expectations of the council.
Valerie Halverson of MWH Group presented the annual audit report and said the city is financially sound. Council accepted the audit report and approved payment.
Council discussed a review of the Home Rule Charter and three potential changes for consideration: Plurality vs. Majority Vote; Runoff Elections; and Election Dates.
The Charter currently requires a majority vote in a municipal election for seats on the city council. The mayor and each council member is elected by a majority vote of all votes cast. In a plurality voting system each voter is allowed to vote for only one candidate and the candidate who polls more votes than any other candidate is elected. A change from majority vote to plurality would reduce the incidence of run-off elections, which is inevitable when there are more than two candidates for a single office. The Charter currently requires a runoff election if no candidate receives a majority of votes.
There are two uniform election dates in the State of Texas: May and November. The May election date is specified for the City of Iowa Park in the Charter.
Currently the city and school board hold joint elections. “If we do want to change it (election date) we certainly want to work with the school board on it,” Flemming told the council. He said he understood that the school board was not in favor of changing election dates.
Iowa Park CISD Superintendent Steve Moody, school board president Steve Fairchild, and tax assessor/collector Jonathan Clubb were at the meeting to discuss whether changes would be beneficial. Moody said, “By maintaining the May elections for city and school, you have voters who may be more informed about your city and school district. Those are the ones who come out to vote.” In a November election the attention of voters would be more on candidates running for state and national offices, and not the local candidates.
Council took no action on the charter items.
Flemming gave a report on the city’s current financial condition.
It is recommended that municipalities have three to four months of operating expenses reserved for emergencies, which in Iowa Park is around $900,000. Flemming said the city has purchased two $75,000 certificates of deposit (CDs) for this purpose and the council voted to purchase a $75,000 CD each month for the next three months to add to the reserve.
In other business the council authorized the payment of $16,000 to Garcia’s Construction for emergency repairs to the 16-inch Cypress water line.
The Iowa Park Volunteer Fire Department was given permission to close the road on the east side of Lake Gordon from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, for a fundraising event at the Lake Gordon Disc Golf Course.