JP3 Swears in Joaquin Council; VFD to Manage Public Safety Fee

May 19, 2015 - Margie Anderson, Justice of the Peace Precinct 3, swore in the newly elected City of Joaquin Mayor, Bill Baker and City Council Members, Joe Long and Mike Atkinson Monday, May 18th at the Joaquin City Council Regular Meeting.

From left: Council members Ben Brittain, Mike Atkinson, Joe Long, Lee Vern Stotts Gillian, and Mayor Bill Baker

Following the swearing, council discussed establishing a separate account for Public Safety Fees which are a voluntary donation of $3 included in water bills which goes to public safety or the fire department. The fire department would manage the account and take over payment of all bills. Steve Cockrell, representing the Joaquin VFD, said, "We are asking the Council to think about this $3 that comes in every month for public safety be put into a separate checking account, write us a check for it and we will take care of all the bills. We will pay for the insurance, the gas, the utilities, the phone bill, and anything else that comes up." He went on to say any additional bills which come in over the amount collected through the Public Safety Fee, the fire department would take responsibility for it and pay it out of the fire departments own personal funds. Council agreed it would benefit the city to let the fire department manage the funds and be responsible for their bills. Council approved the motion to put it into a separate account for the fire department to manage.

Council approved the previous month's minutes and payment of bills following a breakdown of the bills explained by Amanda Willey, City Secretary. Council member Mike Atkinson addressed Willey saying, "I can tell Amanda [Willey] has taken some time to try to rectify some stuff that has happened in the past so I appreciate your effort."

"Last month was the first month that I'm sure that some of y'all know that we weren't able to pay all the bills, this second month we did just about get all those caught up now," stated Mayor Baker.

Mayor Baker spoke to the council about annexation of Haslam Tire Company located on Highway 84. Mayor Baker said he spoke with the owner of Haslam Tire, Mr. Tinkle, and he expressed willingness to be annexed into the City. Baker discussed the annexation process with the Council members according to Texas Municipal Leagues' (TML) advisement and council approved moving forward with the process. Mayor Baker said, "That is tax dollars we need."

During open forum, Cedric Jones addressed the council concerning trying to allocate or find funding to repair roads. He was concerned with health hazards and safety issues. Two top roads mentioned to be some of the worst streets in the city was Coulter Street and Morris Street. Discussion did include plans to help including cleaning out a creek and ditches; however, none of it can be done to improve the roads until the rain stops and it drys out.

Agenda Items Approved
1) Approved Previous Month's Minutes
2) Approved Payment of Bills
3) Council member Ben Brittain was appointed to be Mayor Pro Tem.
4) Approved starting annexation process for Haslam Tire Company.
5) Approved establishing a separate account for Public Safety Fees.
6) Approved establishing a separate account for payment of USDA Loan.

Agenda Items Tabled
1) Tabled hiring a new part-time clerk
2) Tabled Utility Rate Increase until more information can be gathered from finances.