Joaquin City Council Follows Through with Public Safety Decisions

June 23, 2020 - The Joaquin City Council met Tuesday, June 16, 2020, immediately following the Public Safety Corporation meeting and followed through with approving the decision of the Public Safety Corporation to officially place the new fire department substation in the name of the Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department.

A motion carried to relenquish all responsibility to the Public Safety Committee of the fire substation 2.

The council considered bids on city owned property on Steve Hughes Drive. Mayor Bill Baker opened by explaining certain circumstances surround the bidder.

"Krystal [Raybon]'s brothers were the only ones to bid on that, Krystal cannot participate in this conversation, nor can she vote," said Baker. "Then to make it legal, if you do accept their bid, there's documents by Krystal and by her brothers that are non-disclosures showing that there's no conflict of interest."

Raybon then explained how the bidding process occurred and who bid.

"I held meetings with people that day that we had discussed about. I was told there was going to be other bids brought in, other bids were not brought in, nobody else brought in a bid, this is the only bid that the council's presented with," said Raybon.

Cathy Atkinson, councilwoman, confirmed with Raybon there were five calls on the project and only two met in person. Out of the two who met in person, only one submitted a bid according to Atkinson.

"This is to restore the original bandstand, then it used to be the city office," said Atkinson. "Three years ago everyone wanted to tear it down. I personally don't want to tear it down, because that's a historical building there."

Atkinson stated, Patrick Sandifer did a good job tearing everything out of the bandstand and she would like to see the building restored as a part of Joaquin's history. It was explained by mayor Baker and Atkinson the money to afford the project would come from the hotel and motel tax utilized by the city, because one of the designated purposes of the funds is to be used for historical restorations.

"I would like to see us put some kind of history of Joaquin back in there as far as pictures, or anything that people might still have around from then," said Atkinson.

Jessie Griffith, councilman, questioned the legality of the bid and wanted to be certain there were no legal issues with accepting the bid. Mayor Baker said he spoke with a Texas Municipal League (TML) representative who stated the bid could be accepted; however, Rayburn could not participate in the discussion and she would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement as well as the contractor.

Mike Cummings Jr., councilman, also said he spoke with a TML representative during the demolision within the building and confirmed it was acceptable for the contractor to do the work regardless of his sibling being on the council.

A motion carried to postpone the action on bids on the city owned property on Steve Hughes Drive, until receipt of an email from TML confirming the legality of the bid at that time a special meeting would be called.

At a previous meeting, the city council agreed to pay a portion of rent for a dry cleaner business in town contingent on Economic Development Corporation approving the assistance through their funds. Mayor Baker stated a meeting had been scheduled, but a quorum didn't log online.

"That's still not a vote and I think that we should rescind that until after Economic Development meets and agrees to pay it," said Griffith.

Atkinson agreed that goes back to the discussion of spending money before it is presented to the appropriate board.

A motion carried to stop payment and put the item back before the Economic Development advisory board.

The council entered into an executive session which produced much volatility for an extended period of time as shouting amongst council members echoed through the front offices of the building.

When the meeting returned to open session around one hour and 15 minutes later, no action was taken on the verbal exchange in executive session and the meeting was adjourned.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Payment of Bills.
2. Lowest bidder David Lawler Construction in the amount of $189,594, as recommended by Hayes Engineering, to award construction bid for TxCDBG7219211 Sewer System Improvements. 
3. Relenquish all responsibility of the fire substation 2 to the Public Safety Committee.
4. Fencing bid of $18,444 for Hwy 7 Fire Station 2 property and building from AC&C.
5. Pay Bobcat Communications $5,051.74 to replace the antenna for the Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department on the water tower.
6. Postpone action until receipt of an email from TML confirming the legality of the bid, at that time a special meeting would be called.
7. Change Public Safety meeting time to 5pm and Economic Development meetings time to 5:30pm.
8. Stop payment on paying partial rent to the dry cleaners in Joaquin and put the item back before the Economic Development advisory board.
9. Adjournment.

Related article:
Joaquin VFD Maintains Substation Possession; Public Safety Corp Outlines Responsibilities