OVILLA – Though it was the last item on the agenda and not voted on until after an executive session on the same topic, the Ovilla City Council voted unanimously to allow the mayor and council members to serve as volunteers for the city. 

Originally on the regular city council agenda for consideration of a 60-day review of Resolution 08-023, the executive session specifically referenced Place 1, Council member Tom Leverentz and Section 551.074 of the Texas  Municipal Code relating to personnel matters.

Leverentz has been volunteering at the fire department since late September; however, council member Ralph Hall noted he had difficulty with any council member volunteering on a regular basis as that council member has the ability to exert a certain authority over city staff. Hall cited, as examples, raises or the continued employment of a city staff member.

It was pointed out that Leverentz went through the proper channels to become an Ovilla volunteer firefighter. Fire Chief Donnie Pickard said there have been no complaints against him while he has served.

The final motion that was passed included stipulations that a review would be held of the volunteer positions each October, that the department in question must agree to the volunteer and that the council member must receive a passing vote from the council in order to serve as a volunteer. The decision may also be rescinded as necessary. 

Department activity reports

A police activity report presented by Chief of Police Mike Moon indicated there had been 20,685 calls year to date at the end of December. There also were 2,017 traffic stop warnings and citations.  Moon also told the council that the grace period is over for the speed limit change on Cockrell Hill Road and he has instructed his officers to begin issuing citations.

Moon reminded the council that the Ovilla Service League fundraiser set for Feb. 20 will benefit the police department this year. The money raised typically goes to buy equipment for the department that is not in the budget. 

Pickard discussed the Larry Marlow Fire Annex, noting City Hall would close early on the 14th to accommodate the power cutover for the annex. Other fire department news included the department receiving a Texas Forest Service Reimbursement check for $1,081.54 for 2005 and also a Texas Forest Service Grant of $13,020. The grant requires $4,000 in matching funds from the city, which has until May to determine how to spend the money.

The Ovilla Fire Department did not receive a 2008 FEMA Fire Act Grant, but Pickard said it was one of 2,100 applications considered. In 2008, the department made 675 calls, up two calls from last year, he said.  

Public Works Department director Jason Robinson discussed his capital improvement project draft, offering information on street rehabilitation, completed and drainage projects. There were 19 rehabilitation projects on the list, with six completed projects and six drainage projects pending.

City Administrator Randy Whiteman discussed the monthly finance report, municipal court collections and said five candidates have been interviewed for the accountant position.

Hall said he felt there would need to be some significant budget revisions for next year and suggested Whiteman look into the possibility of refinancing city bonds. 

“We have to make some tough decisions for next fiscal year,” he said.

The council approved road reconstruction and overlay of Cockrell Hill Road, which will be conducted by and payable to Dallas County District No. 4. The work will cost $179,087; the budget had allowed for $200,000.

Robinson said the work could begin as early as March, but it was his belief the time frame would be late April or early May.

An annual interlocal cooperation contract agreement between the county and city was renewed unanimously. The council also approved the fire department to purchase 1,100 feet of supply hose for $6,554, which was in the budget.

Tabled since September, the council approved ordinances relating to junk cars, with some discussion relating to the definition of “Inoperable, Discarded, and Wrecked.”  The word “discarded” could not be found in the ordinance therefore it was finally decided to strike the word from the ordinance in the final motion. 

In short, a car must have both inspection and registration stickers and be operable to be driven on the road for it not to fall under the confines of the new ordinance. 

Council member Bill Vansyckle said the measure also complies with state definitions.