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Bonham City Council approves stormwater runoff fee
By Allen Rich
Jan 13, 2021
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Bonham, Texas --  Bonham City Council convened for a regular meeting Monday, December 14, 2020, with Bonham Mayor Pro Tem H. Compton presiding in the absence of Bonham Mayor Roy Floyd, who was unable to attend because of health concerns.

Mr. Compton asked for continued prayers for Mayor Floyd and all who are suffering.

The meeting opened with an invocation by Rev. Henry Shelton.

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Councilmembers voted to approve minutes of the regular meeting December 14, 2020.

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Dave Struchtemeyer, CPA, Director of Finance for the City of Bonham, presented the December 2020 financial report to Bonham City Council.

"General Fund revenues are tracking better than expected," Mr. Struchtemeyer reported. "Sales tax revenue is up 8% over budget. The large favorable variance in General Fund expenses is due to timing; street materials purchases will increase in the summer and debt service payments will happen later in the year."

Struchtemeyer went on to say, "The unfavorable variance in Water Sewer Revenues is expected to recover by the end of the year.  Water demand is higher in the summer months and the new water meters should be completely installed by May.  The favorable variance in Water Sewer Expenses is due to understaffing."

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In the segment of the meeting reserved for citizens to speak, a homeowner with a 99-year lease at Lake Bonham who is considering home improvements asked if he would be under the constraints of both the City of Bonham and Bois d'Arc Lake Zoning Commission.

Steve Filipowicz, Executive Director of BEDCo, informed councilmembers of new signage at Jones Field. 

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Councilmembers considered an ordinance which would amend the code of ordinances by amending Chapter 13 to add Article 13.06 titled Municipal Drainage Utility System, to establish a municipal drainage system, provide for a drainage service, billing, exemptions and drainage charges.

The city has long been plagued by flooding and continued development along the Hwy. 121 North corridor is exacerbating the problem.

"It will get worse," predicted Bonham City Manager Sean Pate.

Several concerned residents addressed city council, beginning with former city planner Pete Phillips who authored the city's current stormwater retention ordinance.

Mr. Phillips said he feels his water bill is already too high.

"I would rather see the burden put on new commercial development than homeowners," Phillips remarked.

Bonham ISD School Board President Chance Roberts stated that TASB Risk Pool and Bonham ISD had incurred a cost of $209,768 in 2015 due to floodwaters at L. H. Rather and that increased development on the west side of town had put the L. H. Rather campus into a flood plane resulting in loss of insurance coverage, for flood waters, for that campus.

In 2016 and 2017, Bonham ISD incurred the full cost of restoration after flood water damage from storm water run-off at L.H Rather.

Mr. Roberts pointed out that the proposed stormwater runoff fee would cost the school district approximately $2,800 per year (.016% of annual Operating Budget); however, continuous costs of water damage to Bonham ISD from storm waters would result in increased costs to BISD taxpayers.

The fee for a single-family home would be approximately $2.33 per month, with city residents being billed in conjunction with the monthly water/sewer/trash bill.

Citywide, this new fee would bring in roughly $100,000 annually.

"Can the city increase the fee?" asked Lee Dempsey and she was told that an increase was a possibility.

Jason Royse asked how $100,000 annually could be expected to pay for the stormwater runoff improvements the city's analysis indicates is needed?

Bonham City Manager Sean Pate said the city would phase in improvements, beginning with drainage along Pig Branch.

Mr. Royse and Ms. Dempsey seemed to agree that using a low-interest bond to finance a well-planned project would be preferable to a fee that would likely require increases periodically.

"If you are going to do this, do it right," suggested Dempsey, adding that if voters have adequate information and a voice in the proceedings, they would prove to be understanding of the predicament.

"That's going to be a decision we will have to make," Mr. Pate said in regards to possibly using revenue from a bond to complete the necessary phases of the project.

Councilmember Wayne Moore questioned whether $100,000 a year would be enough to adequately address stormwater runoff issues and expressed an interest in using bond revenue.

"We have to begin somewhere," commented Councilmember Kevin Hayes. "This [$100,000 annually] isn't going to be nearly enough to do what we have to. We are going to have to address it."

Mr. Hayes suggested that bond revenue would likely be necessary, in addition to the stormwater runoff fee.

"We know we have this problem," said Councilmember Tony Rodriguez. "We can't keep putting it off."

Dempsey asked what the total project would cost and Pate estimated $10 million.

After the lengthy deliberation, Bonham City Council voted 5-1 in favor of establishing a municipal stormwater drainage fee, with Bill Chapman, Tony Rodriguez, Timothy La Vergne II, H. Compton and Kevin Hayes voting in favor of the fee, while Wayne Moore cast the dissenting vote.

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Bonham City Council adopted a resolution of support for a multi-million, multi-family housing initiative geared towards workforce residents and located along Hwy 121 near Bonham High School. The initiative is contingent on the allocation of federal tax credits (9%) awarded through the State of Texas. If successful, this initiative could add as much as $15 million of taxable value to the tax rolls.

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Councilmembers voted to approve a Special Use Permit for Abstract #727 McDonald 4.98 acres to change from multi-family low density to multi-family high density use. 

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Councilmembers voted to approve a Specific Use Permit for Williamson Addition part of Block 42, 2.58 acres to change from single-family residential to multi-family residential.