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Bonham City Council lowers tax rate, accepts proposal to operate Lake Bonham Concession Stand
By Allen Rich
Sep 10, 2019
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Bonham, Texas -- At a fast-paced regular meeting Monday, September 9, 2019, Bonham City Council adopted an ad valorem tax rate for the tax year beginning January 1, 2020, adopted the fiscal year 2019-2020 operating budget for the City of Bonham, approved the refinancing of Series 2010 bonds and certificates, approved a professional development services agreement with Sanchez and Associates, amended Airport Advisory Board bylaws, appointed an assistant prosecutor for the City of Bonham, approved a proposal to operate Lake Bonham Concession Stand, and appointed a committee to negotiate the EMS contract with Fannin County.

The meeting opened with an invocation by Rev. Henry Shelton of Trinity Baptist Church.

Bonham City Council approved minutes of the August 12 regular meeting, as well as minutes from special meetings August 20, August 26 and September 3.

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Dave Struchtemeyer, CPA, Director of Finance for the City of Bonham, presented the August 2019 financial report to Bonham City Council.

"This month the City made the scheduled interest-only debt service payments of $82,000 on the General Fund and $118,000 on the Water Sewer Fund," Mr. Struchtemeyer began. "We incurred $100k of engineering fees related to the Water and Wastewater infrastructure improvements that has been funded by our 2019 Series A and B Texas Water Development Board Bond (TWDB) Funding."  

"We incurred $35,000 of repairs and maintenance at the airport closing out of FY 2019 Routine Airport Maintenance Program (RAMP) grant with TXDOT Aviation," Struchtemeyer added. "For the year we incurred $85,000 of airport maintenance of which we will be reimbursed 50% by TXDOT next month; the remaining 50% of these costs were fully covered by airport revenues."

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In the segment of the meeting that allows citizens to address councilmembers, city resident Shawn Look told Bonham City Council that her water bill for the past month was $368.32, approximately twice as much as her normal monthly water bill. Ms. Look suggested that because billing was 10 days late, a surcharge for higher water usage contributed to the significant increase in the water bill. Another factor is that the previous owner of the home had a one-inch water line installed, which Look contends adds approximately $80 to her monthly water bill.

While councilmembers aren't allowed to respond to items that are not on the agenda, Bonham City Manager Sean Pate said the city staff would examine the circumstances that resulted in the marked increase in Look's water bill.

Michael Evans asked Bonham City Council to scrutinize the EMS contract the City of Bonham has with Fannin County.

"We are at the point where we need to look at an EMS district," Mr. Evans stated, and he asked city officials to be vigorous in negotiations with Fannin County regarding the EMS contract.

An EMS district would have authority to tax, however before a district located wholly in one county may be created, the county judge of that county must receive a petition signed by at least 100 qualified voters who own taxable real property in the proposed district.

In addition, before a district that contains territory in a municipality's limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction may be created, a written request to be included in the district must be presented to the municipality's governing body after the petition is filed under Section 775.015 of the State of Texas Health and Safety Code.

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Bonham City Council approved the refinancing of Series 2010 Bonds and Certificates that originated with the restructured debt package in 2010 that allowed the construction of Bonham City Hall without raising taxes. Two of those bonds have a higher than current-market interest rate and are callable in February 2020, which means they can be paid off earlier than the maturity date. The City of Bonham intends to sell those bonds at an anticipated reduced interest rate of 2.34%, resulting in a gross savings of between $207,000 and $230,000.

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Bonham City Council approved a professional development services agreement with Sanchez and Associates at a cost of $69,735, with the City of Bonham paying $19,861 and BEDCo contributing $49,874. Martin Sanchez addressed councilmembers to explain that the services will include project management and administration; a comprehensive review of city policies, codes and ordinances; and promoting the City of Bonham and BEDCo for development.

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Two bidders had submitted a proposals to operate Lake Bonham Concession Stand, however both parties pulled those bids. Michael Smithey and Brad Taft addressed Bonham City Council with a proposal to operate Lake Bonham Concession Stand using a convenient store concept, including 24-hour ice and Wi-Fi. Significant investment will be required to repair flood damage to the building that occurred September 2018.

Brad Taft (left) and Michael Smithey

Bonham City Council approved the proposal for a two-year lease at $200 per month, with the option to renew. Initial payments will be deferred to allow repairs to be made. The new operators plan to call it The Snack Shack and estimate it will take 4-6 weeks to open.

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Bonham City Council appointed Billy Gant as an assistant prosecutor for the City of Bonham.

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Councilmembers ratified BEDCo's 2019-2020 operating budget as approved by the Bonham Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors.

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Bonham City Council amended Ordinance 1365 providing for a 2.65% increase in solid waste collection services by Sanitation Services inside the City of Bonham and at Lake Bonham.

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Councilmembers approved an ordinance adopting an ad valorem tax rate of $0.6550 per $100 of taxable value for tax year beginning January 1, 2020, which would be a reduction from the current rate of .6864 per $100 of property value.

The City of Bonham also managed to budget a 3% cost-of-living increase for employees and enhanced retirement benefits.

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Bonham City Council adopted the fiscal year 2019-2020 operating budget for the City of Bonham.

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Councilmembers approved the Bonham Fire Department Charity Care Policy. Charity Care is defined as free or discounted medical care provided to patient unable to pay for all or part of medical costs.

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Bonham City Council amended the Airport Advisory Board bylaws to stipulate that any board member who fails to attend three consecutive meetings without being excused by the board will forfeit his or her office.

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Bonham City Council appointed a three-member board of Bill Chapman, H. Compton and Michael Evans.