City Council Updates
Olney City council met Aug. 12 to discuss several items on the agenda. Prior to taking care of city business, Mayor Phil Jeske and Olney City Council took a moment to honor three long-term employees. The mayor presented the employees with a certificate.
“I really can’t believe you all have been here as long as you have,” Jeske said while thanking the employees for their service to the city. The employees were Lloyd Newton – 10 years of service; Bruce Messimer III – five years of service; Kari Blair – five years of service.
Next on the agenda was discussion about the interlocal agreement for a school resource officer also known as SRO. City Administrator Neal Welch introduced Olney ISD Superintendent Dr. Greg Roach who was present as a representative of the school district who was available to answer questions and provide additional information about the interlocal agreement. City Secretary Tim Houston confirmed a previous meeting with Dr. Roach but reassured the council that they had met with Dr. Roach previously to discuss other issues such as training, equipment and a vehicle. According to the agreement as of Aug. 12, the school and city will cover the costs via an 80/20 split, and the city will provide the vehicle since a vehicle was not accounted for in the budget for this school year. The council agreed to also split the maintenance for the vehicle 50/50. “The right move is to approve the agreement so we can start advertising for the position for both a certified and a non-certified school resource officer,” Jeske said. After thorough consideration by the council, the agreement was approved unanimously.
Dr. Keelan Lewis with Salt Creek Veterinary Clinic introduced a “Catch and Release Program.” Lewis said she would like to partner with the City to take steps toward resolving the feral cat problem in Olney. “We were trying to think of a way to get started with the concept of Olney supporting Olney and trying to help modulate the cat population. For each person who brings their cat to be spayed and neutered during August and September, we would donate the same procedure to the city,” Lewis said. “We thought this would be a way to get this concept started. Maybe in the future, this could become a regular event if the community well receives it.” There are a few things that need to be worked out such as how to classify a stray animal. The animal control officer Krystal Barnhardt was on board with the idea but had a few concerns. Barnhardt asked, “If we do that program, how will we know if someone caught a stray cat?” Lewis explained that if someone finds a cat, they should take it to Salt Creek for spaying/neutering and release the animal back. “If we demonstrate that this is a concept that can work, we can make the process a longstanding situation and it can make a difference in the feral cat population,” Lewis said. City Council approved Lewis’ request to advertise the program.
The next order of business was approval of an ordinance to set guidelines for gazebo park monuments. Houston said he met with Olney Chamber of Commerce Director Stacy Wade and board members who expressed concerns about the need to have guidelines for park monuments. Houston presented guidelines to the council for approval with a goal to prevent excessive nonconforming monuments in the park. One of the guidelines state the monument must be nationally recognized and have a uniform look consistent with the overall design of the park. The City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 08-19.
Other Meeting Highlights:
Vehicle activity on Lake Road: Ordinance 09-19 approved to prohibit off-road vehicles such as recreational vehicles, dirt bikes, etc. in the premises of the lake. Exceptions would include City employees and residents who have property on Lake Cooper.
Street Sweeping Proposal: Welch has begun the search for contractors who can sweep the streets in Olney. The city council will be evaluating proposals to determine the most cost-effective approach. They must determine the overall need by assessing the full scope of the job as well as the logistics associated with the task. Currently, the city has not ascertained the total number of miles of the streets that require sweeping. Welch said this is a task he will be taking on soon.
Departmental Reports: Houston reported at the end of the July, the city Expended 83% of the budget and collected more than $3.5 million and spent more than $2.8 million. Expenditures exceeded revenues by $22,306 with an excess $641,882 for the year. Last month sales taxes decreased, but still on course for the year. $944,000.00 cash on hand. The city has sold all equipment and with a $25K net profit.
Chief Conny Clay’s Report: The three burglary suspects that were responsible for the robberies of eight buildings were captured. Some suspects associated with the burglaries have not been apprehended. Two suspects were arrested in Graham, and the other one was turned it by his mother. All three were sentenced to juvenile detention. Among the nine charges includes felony burglary and theft of firearms. The juveniles are not from Olney ISD school district. The officers are prohibited from discussing too many details as laws regarding youth restrict them.
Code Enforcement Updates: The Code Enforcement Officer Dustin Hudson said his department is in the process of condemning four houses and trying to take care of high grass issues throughout Olney. He is working with Neal on new ordinances to assist with both problems.