Copperas Cove city council delays action on visitors bureau ordinance
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove City Council ended up delaying any action on approving an ordinance declaring the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce as the official Convention and Visitors Bureau for Copperas Cove during their regular meeting held Tuesday.
Before City Secretary Lisa Wilson could finish her sentence reading the agenda item, Councilmember Charlie Youngs made a motion to approve an ordinance declaring the Chamber of Commerce as the official Convention and Visitors Bureau for the city of Copperas Cove.
Mayor pro-tem Dan Yancey requested that City Manager Ryan Haverlah be recognized and allowed to speak.
Haverlah explained that the last time the item was on the city council’s agenda in July, he had requested city council delay the designation of the CVB until after the allocation of the funding had taken place. He reiterated his recommendation of waiting until the allocation of funds was made.
The next date of considering allocation of Hotel Occupancy Tax funding will be Tuesday, August 13.
The decisions made on Tuesday will have a direct impact on the kinds of events that both the City of Copperas Cove and the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce have planned for the next fiscal year - and if some of those events will occur at all.
Youngs again made his motion naming the Chamber of Commerce as the city’s CVB, which was seconded by council member Fred Chavez.
“Before I got on the council, I appeared in front of the council in July of 2017. At that time, the council was in the process of basically destroying the EDC, destroying the Chamber and several other things.”
Youngs added that he gave then city manager Andrea Gardner the nickname of “Darth Vader” and referred to four of the council members as “the Four Horses of the [Apocalypse]”, because the “Darth Vader and the Four Horses of the [Apocalypse] was literally destroying our city.”
Since being elected, Youngs said he has worked very hard in getting the EDC back up and running.
Councilmember Jay Manning asked what the rush was, rather than following the normal procedures.
“You’re right, Jay. I’ll pull my motion back,” Youngs said. “Because we did say we wanted to get the results back from those events that the city manager has sent to the state agency, and we wanted to kind of get whether they were valid events or not valid events out in the open, so I withdraw my motion.”
Councilmember Marc Payne asked for clarification whether it affected the city one way or another when the allocation of funding requests would be.
The city’s Tourism Department is made up of 1.5 positions - one full-time position of Tourism Coordinator currently filled by Brianna McGuine and a part-time position for a laborer.
“Should city council not choose to allocate funding for the Tourism Department, particularly for that position, that person will not have a funded job on October 1, 2019, and so the sooner I know, the sooner I can begin working not only with that individual but within our Human Resources Department to identify an available eligible location for that individual to move into, so, it matters a lot.”
Not only would there no longer be a Tourism Coordinator employed by the city, but “the tourism events as we know them would be unfunded and dissolve as well,” stated Kevin Keller, the city’s Public Information Officer, in a follow-up email after the meeting.
This means any events held by the Tourism Department, which currently includes the weekly Farmer’s Markets May through October, the Food Truck Festival held in August, the Fall O’Ween Festival held in October, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in December, the 5K Run to the Polar Bear Plunge in January and the Easter Egg Roundup, according to the city’s Tourism Department webpage.
“I think the fact that a change had been made in the past was an effort based on circumstance that was occurring, and our tourism department made a very concerted effort to move forward,” Haverlah said. “Comments during the citizen’s forum, I don’t have an argument against any of them except to say that the city stepped up to the plate to conduct the business that needed to be conducted for the CVB, and is it the perfect CVB? No, it hasn’t been, but I think we are on a really good track to providing excellent tourism services to our community and promotion of tourism.”
Manning later informed Haverlah that he was in favor of Youngs’ motion but not the timing of it.
Council also heard a quarterly report from Heart of Texas Defense Alliance (HOTDA) Executive Director Keith Sledd before approving a payment of $4,250 for professional services.
One of the updates provided included that the proposal for an Intergovernmental Support Agreement between Copperas Cove and Fort Hood to allow the Fort Hood Recycling Center to accept Copperas Cove’s recycling had been included as an amendment in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, courtesy of U.S. Rep. John Carter. The next step would be to make sure it remains in the NDAA throughout the Conference Committee process, according to Sledd’s presentation.
Sledd also shared some “Fort Hood Fast Facts”. As of July 9, 2019, there were 36,961 soldiers and airmen assigned to Fort Hood, with 49,621 family members. The current deployments totaled 4,132, an increase of the 1,700 from the last time Sledd addressed city council.
Haverlah issued a thank you to Sledd and HOTDA, saying that HOTDA has been “instrumental in ensuring that that language [regarding the recycling agreement] gets into the NDAA, as well as their guidance with the DEAAG grant and their support in making sure we can apply for that grant successfully. Through their guidance, our region has received two grants in the past, so I anticipate that we’ll successfully receive a third grant with their support.”
Council members approved a reimbursement to the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce in the amount of $11,255 for the 39th annual Rabbit Fest held in May this year. In the presentation to city council, Chamber President Alicia Menard shared details about the breakdown of money spent, attendance numbers and the advertising efforts on the part of the Chamber.
The gross revenues from Rabbit Fest were $99,721, and expenditures were $79,905, leaving a net income of $19,816. The Chamber spent a total of $11,945.55 on advertising, utilizing television, radio, print and social media. The total attendance was reported as more than 31,027, with 114 registered vendors. There were 425 overnight stays and 34 parade entries.
The $11,255 requested by the Chamber had previously been approved in March as a request for Hotel Occupancy Tax funding.
City council also approved a resolution establishing procedures for a General Election to be held November 5, 2019 to elect city council positions 3, 4 and 5.
The city will contract with Lampasas and Coryell Counties to conduct the elections on the city’s behalf, for a total cost of $10,812.34. This does not include the City’s costs for publications and translations.
City council approved the appointment/reappointment of three members, Bonita Henderson, Erika Poppel and Adam Seymour, to the Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful Commission. The Commission allows for 15 members to be approved by the city council, with a term limit of three years for each member.
City council also authorized the city manager to execute an Interlocal Government Agreement with the Copperas Cove Independent School District (CCISD) for policing services. The current contract expires September 30, 2019. The contract provides for two uniformed police officers to perform law enforcement related activities for CCISD. Changes to the contract from the previous fiscal year for CCISD include an increased reimbursement amount for services provided. CCISD will allow the city the use of school facilities for the purpose of emergency response training. Upon request by the school district, the city will assist in training crossing guards during the term of the contract, which is effective October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020.
All costs in providing this service will be reimbursed to the city in quarterly installments, totaling $159,398.00, according to the agenda packet.
City council also approved a resolution granting the city manager the authority to apply for, accept, reject, alter or terminate and close a Hancher Library Foundation grant in the amount of $31,000, to be used to convert the Copperas Cove Public Library from an “out-dated magnetic strip security system” to a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system.
“The new system will allow our services to continue to expand without adding staff,” read the grant application.
City council approved a resolution to suspend an increase in natural gas rates sought by Atmos Energy for 45 days, until September 26, 2019, while the city considers that request. If the increase is approved by the Railroad Commission, it will result in an increase in Atmos Energy’s revenue of approximately $67.1 million.
The city council held a public hearing on proposed amendments to the city’s current budget, with no one speaking during the hearing.
The city’s General Fund requires an overall expenditure increase of $53,320 for a land swap with Fort Hood Corps of Engineering. The fee for processing the land exchange is $46,160 and it includes $16,000 for Environmental Documentation, $1,000 for Survey Review, $15,810 for Appraisals, $2,350 for Mapping, $5,000 for Office of Council, and $6,000 for Management and Disposal. The remaining $7,160 of the total amount will be used for land surveying services. The Court Efficiency Fund also requires an overall expenditure increase of $620 to purchase four headsets for Municipal Court staff, and the Court Technology Fund requires an overall expenditure increase of $3,568 to purchase four scanners for Municipal Court department use.