PALMER – The Palmer City Council saved the swearing in of its newly elected mayor and council members until the last of its meeting Tuesday night.

Several agenda items were considered by the existing council led by outgoing Mayor Lance Anglin.

One of the items considered was a request from Chief of Police John Zaidle to reduce the speed limit on residential streets. 

“A while back, we reduced the speed limit on streets in Green Acres to 20 miles per hour for the safety of the children that have to walk in the streets and will play in the streets. As the city has grown, this is a problem all across the city where 30 is just too fast,” Zaidle said.

Zaidle cited narrow streets and the lack of sidewalks with only street areas for available walking areas.

“I feel 20 is a more appropriate speed limit for the residential areas,” he said, clarifying that major streets would not be affected, just the streets in the residential neighborhoods. Upon hearing his clarification, the council unanimously passed the change.

According to Zaidle, the city first has to change out the old signs with the new speed limit signs. Once the new signs are up, the department will began enforcing the new limits.

“To help the people get used to the new limits, we will only be issuing warnings for the first couple of weeks. After the first couple of weeks we will begin full enforcement,” he said.

Two sign variances came before the council for consideration. One request was by Palmer ISD to place temporary signs on school property and fencing. The request passed unanimously without discussion.

A second request from Joe Heard was denied by a four to one vote, with council member Dianne Drewery casting the dissenting vote. Heard had requested a variance to have an off-premises sign in the ETJ. The first question by the council was whether he was asking for small yard signs or the pole sign placed of his property.

City Manager Doug Young said the city’s sign ordinance allows the yard signs for a period of time after a project has been completed. He went on to say, however, that Heard placed a pole sign at his place of business, which is allowed, and another along a major roadway on property that does not belong to him.

Young asked the council to deny the request with the recommendation that code enforcement send him a letter to remove the offending sign. In voting against the measure, Drewery said the council should focus on what’s in the city now and not worry about what’s not in its limits.

Tracie Woods of Yedell and Wilson gave the council an overview of the city’s recent 2010-2011 fiscal years audit. Reading through the analysis of the various accounts, Woods showed where the city has significantly improved its financial condition over last year’s report.

Both the water and sewer and general fund balances have increased and the city has extended the reserve amounts in both accounts. In the general fund expense area, she showed where all of the various department expenses were under budget while revenues exceeded budgeted amounts in most areas.

“We found no deficiencies and no significant areas of concerns, just a few very minor recommendations,” Wood said.

The council unanimously accepted her report, with Young saying he has tried to run the city in a financial responsible manner.

“We are going to need improvements in the water and sewer systems. These will cost money. I am trying to put is in a position to afford these repairs,” Young said, thanking the council for working with him and the department heads to control expenses.

The council went into a brief executive session for the evaluation of the city administrator. After reconvening, the council unanimously approved to continue his contract. The council did set a maximum three and one-half percent salary increase in the motion to approve.

Following the agenda items the newly elected mayor, Kenneth Bateman, and council members, Drewery and Marvin Rhodes, were sworn into office.

In his final comments, Anglin thanked each of the council members, city staff and their staff for their help during his administration. Closing his comments, Anglin passed the mayor’s gavel over newly Bateman.