John Kelley: Council Report

March 30, 2021 City Council Report

By John Kelley

Mayor Guajardo had laryngitis and did not chair the meeting but attended on zoom. Roland Barrera Mayor pro tem acted as Chairman in her place.

Public Comment

All of the public comment revolved around the removal of Municipal Judge Burkett. Matt Manning former Asst. Prosecutor, Sandra Santana Municipal Judge Administrator, and Chris Gale, a civil attorney, all spoke for her rehiring. Judge Young Min Burkett asked that she be reinstated as she had not had any negative evaluations, or told of any deficit in her work. She only found out that she being forced out by viewing the agenda where she wasn’t listed among the judges being reappointed. 

Her replacement (there seems to be a reluctance to name him) was reportedly being pushed by At-Large Councilman John Martinez and Court Administrative Judge Gail Loeb. The Staff pulled the reappointment Item (6) after the controversy arose. More on this ahead.

City Managers Report

The national Covid Relief Bill will send $68.7 million to Corpus Christi. Half on May 2 and half next year in May. The funds can be used for four categories of expenses.

  1. Responding to the impacts of the pandemic and the cost of dealing with the pandemic.
  2. Premium pay for certain workers.
  3. Replace local tax losses.
  4. Infrastructure.

Guidance will be forthcoming from the feds along with local staff recommendations that will be delivered in a workshop to further decide on the expenditure of the funds.

“Revive the Drive” 

The rebuilding of Ocean Drive –is making good progress in spite of weather delays and will be completed by October 2021.

Crisis Intervention Team

Officer Sean Barnes reported on the Crisis Intervention Team formed in 2018. The team is made up of specially trained police officers and mental health professionals, 17 in all. The team intervenes in mental health and substance abuse crisis that formally would’ve been dealt with through the criminal justice system. The unit de-escalates situations, assesses and threat/risk, identifies needs and helps with transition and follow-up.

The average annual cost savings to the department is $355,000. It is the most requested unit on the force and is unable to respond to all the need. CCPD is three years ahead of most departments even in large cities in dealing with crisis. 

Council persons suggested more funding be considered for expansion of the program. The Unit was formed under Police Chief Mike Markle’s supervision who is retiring this year after thirty years of dedicated service. A shout out of thanks to Chief Markle, they will be hard shoes to fill.

Buc Days

The Buc Days carnival this year will have reduced an occupancy and number rides with masks required and sanitizer to be used before and after entering or leaving the rides. Pro Bull Riding will be two days instead of one this year with arena capacity limited to 2500 people. The second day of PBR will be nationally televised on ABC along with the parade which will be held in the arena and also televised on the local ABC. 

Legislative Report

There were hearings on four different bills to prevent lobbying by municipalities of the state. There was also testimony regarding Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency (TWIA) authority to raise rates. Councilmen Smith and Barrera Testified for Corpus Christi. The Nueces County/Port development bill has not yet been submitted.

Seawall Repairs

$1.98 million contract was let for seawall repairs, the first major repairs since 2006. The funds were taken from the Capital Improvement Fund.

Compost Facilities

The contract was let to expand the City’s compost operation with a new facility. They found this can reduce landfill dumping by half. A multistage process which combines ground brush, wastewater sludge and industrial organic waste is processed into organic mulch and sold to local nurseries. This is two thirds of the cost of putting it in the landfill.

Contract for Improvements to the Allison Water Treatment Plant

The Allison Plant had 84% of the violations of the Cleanup Water Act while the last upgrade was in 1984. It’s got a total capacity of 5 million gallons per day but only treats 2.5 mgd. This will be a total upgrade of the facility as part of the City’s consent to group decree with the EPA.

Erosion Issue

The City signed a contract with the Corps of Engineers to study erosion mitigation on the Colorado River near its pump station on the Mary Rose Pipeline.

City Hall Elevators

City voted to fund the replacement of the City Hall elevators which are at the end of their useful life.

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