The City Council of Seminole took to chambers for the second time this month, and members voted unanimously to provide area voters a choice this November 4th to fill the seat left vacant by the departure of District 1, Place 2 Councilman Freddy Jones. The Council is mandated by law to fill any vacant seat with more than one year remaining on the unexpired term.
The proposed Splashpark for City Park continues to move further from concept to reality as a discussion of the project continued. City Administrator Tommy Phillips employing a graphic to explain details to the Council, three of whom had earlier in the day joined the Seminole Economic Development Corp. in granting $200,000 toward the project. Phillips, Mayor Mixon, and the Council seemed to be in agreement that the city could possibly fund as much as $300,000 of the effort.
Earlier in the evening, the discussion of water issues moved below ground, as Stewart Purvis, representing the B.W. Primeris Company, provided updates on the progress of the firm's work for the city on the Blaus Wasser water project. After moving through the technical details of the project, Purvis explained that an as yet unexamined report that was received that same day would help to reveal the best locations for the drilling of two new wells to replace two earlier ones that had not lived up to expectations.
Employee insurance and the direct and indirect effects of the Affordable Health Care Act continues to be the focus of much discussion among small government entities, and the Council discussed projected rate hikes that the City's insurers have revealed. Phillips explained to the Council that the current insurer has paid out $1.19 for every dollar taken in, what the industry would refer to as a 119% "utilization rate" that would make a rate hike inevitable and any search of a better rate with a different company more difficult. While Phillips was generally positive about the current budget, the rate hike request provides the City's greatest concern.
Earlier in the meeting, members voted unanimously for the purchase of a pump for the Wal-Mart lift station at a cost of $18,210 from Odessa Pumps. Tejas Partners, the sole vendor who came through with a bid for a contract to provide a replacement pump at the 25th and G Pump Station, will provide the unit to the city at a cost of $99,200. The Council also voted to appoint Lex Hines as a member of the Permian Basin Airport Board.
Phillips also ran through requests for other capital expenditures from various city departments that included the acquisition of a Bobcat-type skid loader and a truck for the Street Department, a new sewer pump for the Water Department, file servers for City Hall and the Police Department, and a request for body cameras for the police. The cameras are designed to film any encounters with the public, and the data is stored in a remote server, usually located in the trunk of the police unit.