ITALY — The Italy City Council has called a general election May 14 to elect a mayor and two council members for terms of two years and a special election for the reauthorization of a one-fourth of 1 percent local sales and use tax.

If approved, the sales tax portion will continue providing revenue for maintenance and repair of municipal streets.

Ronda Cockerham, assistant city administrator, said voters must approve this street sales tax, passed in 2007, every four years. This money collected may only be used for street repair and has most recently been used to resurface parts of Clark, Dilworth, Dunlap, Sparkman, Taylor and White streets.

The city plans to reclaim and chip seal Dallas, College, Davenport, Ridge and Simms streets this summer. Cockerham said she hopes to add South Ward and Harpold streets to the list, if possible.

Her report indicated that Lindsey Construction recently completed the overlay on Couch Street near the new bridge. Cockerham said there was extra asphalt and contractors were able to overlay San Jacinto Street as well.

The council also approved a joint election with Italy ISD, with the election to be held in city hall council chambers.

Anyone interested in running for the expired positions has until 5 p.m. March 14. Packets are available at Italy City Hall. Early voting begins May 2 and runs through May 10.

After a half-hour closed, executive session, the council returned to open session and unanimously voted to retain and increase the salary of Dean Carroll, public works director.

During department reports, Carroll thanked the citizens for their patience during the recent cold snap when some residents were without water, saying it has been a tough three weeks for the public works department.

He said the pumps went out on the wells and the freeze took out the control panels, requiring his crews to work the controls manually 24-hours a day.

Tom Little, who was in attendance at the meeting, praised Carroll and his crew for their hard work.

“You and your department did a super job through this,” he said.

More water

Gary Burton of Burton Engineers presented a detailed estimate regarding the purchase of water from the city of Waxahachie.

He estimated a $5.6 million to $5.9 million cost to run a 12-inch water line between Italy and Waxahachie, which would increase water bills an estimated $40 per month and take from two to three years to complete.

There are several options available to offset those costs, such as adding other water utilities onto the line, he said, noting also that the city of Corsicana has run a water line to Frost. The distance is shorter in this scenario but the city of Italy would be required to purchase right-of-way between it and Frost. Italy has an easement between Italy and Waxahachie along the abandoned railroad right-of-way.

Burton said the city, even with the purchase of right-of-way, could possibly save about a million dollars running a water line to Frost.

The council took no action on the item, with Carroll noting it was more for informational purposes at this time.

Other business

The council approved a resolution from the Italy Economic Development Corporation for phase two of the Italy Community Center Improvement Projects. The resolution authorizes Mark Stiles, president, to enter into demolition, engineering and other contracts for the project.

This encompasses the demolition of the former community center and the recently purchased building next to it on Main Street.

Additionally, the council voted against accepting an additional gross revenue franchise fee offered by Atmos Energy.

The utility company had offered an opportunity to accept or opt out of a revised interpretation of “gross receipts” to include a “fee on fee” payment.

If the city had accepted the additional fee, local Atmos customers would have been charged an additional fee with assessments back to January 2009 at an estimated cost of $1 per month per customer, assuming gas usage was less than $100 per month. The benefit for the city would have been additional franchise payments from both residential and commercial customers.

With the city opting out, customers will not be assessed the additional costs back to 2009.

Joan Grabowski asked if trash customers would have their trash pickup bill reduced since DCI did not pick up trash one week.

Mayor Frank Jackson said the firm related to him that it picked up two weeks’ worth of trash. The city did not expect to see a decrease in costs from the company, he said.

Grabowski also reported the street signs gone from the intersection of Dallas and Couch streets.

Routine reports

During department reports, Lt. David Gray presented the police reports for the month of January in the absence of C.V. Jones, police chief.

Gray said officers made seven arrests and were called to service 121 times. Officers worked 1,293 hours. The animal control officer worked 54.5 hours and picked up 28 animals. The officer issued two citations and two verbal warnings. The code enforcement officer sent two courtesy letters.

Carroll said the department experienced a 5.14 percent water loss during the month. Customers used 4,825,000 gallons of water.

Fire Chief Don Chambers reported that fire and EMS personnel responded to 33 calls during the month.

The municipal court recorded 473 citations issued by the Italy Police Department and cleared 10 warrants.

Cockerham said the Texas Department of Rural Affairs staff is reviewing the city’s 275,000 water system improvements grant application.

The mayor and council members thanked the city departments and especially the public works department for the job they did during the recent freeze.