City of Nederland Logo
City of Nederland R. A. "Dick" Nugent, Mayor
Don Albanese, Mayor Pro Tem
Talmadge Austin, Councilmember
Billy Neal, Councilmember
Craig J. Belaire, Councilmember
Christopher Duque, City Manager

P.O. Box 967 * Nederland, Texas 77627 * 409.723.1503 * Fax 409.723.1550
 

Meeting Minutes from Monday, October 24, 2005

REGULAR MEETING OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE

CITY OF NEDERLAND

6:00 p.m. October 24, 2005
  1. MEETING

    The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by Mayor R. A. Nugent at the Nederland City Office Building, 1400 Boston Avenue, Nederland, Texas. See attached for quorum.

  2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

    A motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Neal and seconded by Councilmember Rogers to approve the minutes of the October 10, 2005 meeting as written. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

  3. REQUESTS

    Andre' Wimer, City Manager, explained that Mr. B. R. Hawthorne, 1308 Marshall, is requesting a reduction in his water bill due to Hurricane Rita. As a result of any uprooted tree, the service line to his residence was damaged resulting in a leak. The City's ordinance allows for the sewer and maintenance portions of a bill to be reduced to the average of the preceding six months. Mr. Hawthorne has requested that the City Council also consider averaging the water consumption because he was unable to return to town to make the necessary repairs during the mandatory evacuation.

    B. R. Hawthorne, 1308 Marshall, advised Council that the repairs were made to his service line by a licensed plumber as soon as he returned home.

    A motion was made by Mayor Nugent and seconded by Councilmember Griffin to authorize an exception to the City of Nederland water billing policy due to circumstances associated with Hurricane Rita by reducing the water bill of B. R. Hawthorne, 1308 Marshall, to the amount of $50.90. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

    Andre' Wimer, City Manager, explained that James Shahan, 3106 Avenue B, is requesting that grass cutting fees and liens be waived on his property. The liens were placed on the property in 1990 and 1995 as a result of bills not being paid by Mr. Shahan's grandfather who was the property owner at that time. According to Mr. Shahan the title search performed when he purchased the property did not identify these liens. A more recent title search was done which did identify the liens.

    A motion was made by Councilmember Sheffield and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Neal to approve a request from James Shahan, 3106 Avenue B, to waive interest costs only associated with two grass cutting liens and to release the liens when the original fees paid to the contractor are paid in the amount of $380.00. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

  4. HEARING

    Andre' Wimer, City Manager, explained that this hearing is for the purpose of receiving opening statements from CenterPoint Energy Entex and the City of Nederland regarding the interim order and related issues pertaining to CenterPoint Energy Entex's rate increase request and continuing the hearing in progress.

    Richard Hughes, City Attorney, presented the City's opening statement by stating that on June 30, 2005 CenterPoint filed a Statement of Intent with the City of Nederland. The City has exclusive jurisdiction on all utility rate matters and we have continued to represent our citizens in all rate cases. It was discovered that they failed to cause notice to be published in compliance with Section 104.103(a)(1) of the Utilities Code. The notice that was published failed to provide any information about the rate increase being requested. The City adopted an interim order requiring CenterPoint to notify the City when it intends to publish notice in a manner specified by the City, as well as when it intends to update its test year data which was not in compliance with state regulations. Mr. Hughes added that in total noncompliance with the City's interim order CenterPoint appealed that order to the Railroad Commission in an effort to interfere with the City's exclusive jurisdiction over their rate increase request. Their appeal was denied by the Railroad Commission. CenterPoint has failed to promptly respond to discovery requests of the Alliance of CenterPoint Municipalities, which we are a member, with some requests being more than forty-five days overdue. CenterPoint has notified the City that they will not answer any discovery about its current or updated test year data. Mr. Hughes advised the City Council to continue this hearing in progress until such time as CenterPoint has fully and completely answered discovery about its updated or current test year and there has been sufficient time to analyze their responses to discovery; and, that the hearing in progress will continue until notice is published which is consistent with Section 104.103 of the Utilities Code and City of Nederland Ordinance No. 2005-12.

    Brad Tutunjan, CenterPoint, provided the opening statement for CenterPoint Energy Entex by stating that the City's notice of hearing is untimely under the Gas Utility Regulatory Act and that the time period for entering into a hearing on the proposed rate change has lapsed. He further stated that they filed the Statement of Intent to Change Rates with the City on June 30, 2005 with a proposed effective date of August 5, 2005. This effective date was calculated based on Section 104.102(a) of the Utility Regulatory Act - thirty-five days after the filing. This Act limits the time period in which the regulatory authority may convene a hearing to determine the propriety of the proposed increase to the 30th day after the effective date of the increase. CenterPoint is of the opinion that the City acted outside of its statutory authority in initiating a hearing on October 24, 2005 and declaring an ongoing hearing in progress. He added that if the City determines that the notice and test year data are insufficient the law provides for a clear remedy. The City may deny the proposed rates or dismiss ifs Statement of Intent to Change Rates. Each of these actions represents a final determination on CenterPoint's proposed rates, which CenterPoint may then appeal to the Railroad Commission. In the event the City does not make a final determination on the proposed rates by November 2, 2005, the City is considered to have approved the proposed rates under the Regulatory Act. The City cannot subvert the comprehensive regulatory framework established by the Legislature in the Regulatory Act by refusing to issue a ruling according to the statutorily prescribed procedures and within the statutorily required time period. Neither can the City deprive the Commission of its exclusive appellate jurisdiction through the artificial means of an untimely hearing in progress.

    Mr. Hughes added that it was not a matter of the notice being published, but was it timely, and the incorrect test year data. He stated that the most troubling issue was their refusal to answer discovery. Additionally, it is not possible for the City to accurately consider the rate request in the absence of receiving complete information from CenterPoint.

    Councilmember Rogers stated that he reviewed the rate case information back to the initial filing date and he is of the opinion that CenterPoint has shown no interest in working with the members of the Alliance of CenterPoint Municipalities.

    A motion was made by Councilmember Rogers and seconded by Councilmember Griffin to continue the hearing in progress until such time as CenterPoint complies with the notice requirements and test year data. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

  5. CENTERPOINT ENERGY

    A motion was made by Councilmember Sheffield and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Neal to approve Resolution No. 2005-17, suspending the effective date indefinitely for CenterPoint Energy Entex's request to increase rates and requiring prompt responses to discovery requests. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

  6. RESOLUTIONS

    A motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Neal and seconded by Councilmember Sheffield to approve Resolution No. 2005-18, authorizing application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for grant funds associated with Hurricane Rita. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

    A motion was made by Mayor Nugent and seconded by Councilmember Rogers to approve Resolution No. 2005-15, ratifying the action of the Nederland Economic Development Corporation related to the incentive offered to Golden Triangle Specialty Medical Center dba Promise Specialty Hospital of Southeast Texas. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

    A motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Neal and seconded by Councilmember Rogers to approve Resolution No. 2005-16, ratifying the action of the Nederland Economic Development Corporation related to the incentive offered to A & J Ladies, L.L.C. dba Bath Junkie-Mid County. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

  7. BIDS/PROPOSALS

    A motion was made by Councilmember Rogers and seconded by Councilmember Griffin to authorize the award of bids received for effluent troughs for the Wastewater Treatment Plant to Kieschnick Industries, Inc., Nederland, TX, in the amount of $42,636.00. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

  8. PAYMENTS

    A motion was made by Councilmember Sheffield and seconded by Mayor Nugent to approve payment to Schaumburg & Polk, Inc. in the amount of $450.00, FY 2005 wastewater rehabilitation. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

    A motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Neal and seconded by Councilmember Rogers to approve payment of the bills for the month of September. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

  9. EXECUTIVIE SESSION

    The regular meeting was recessed at 6:40 p.m. by Mayor Nugent for the purpose of conducting an Executive Session as authorized by Texas Government Code, Chapter 551.074, discuss personnel appointment - Fire Chief/Fire Marshall; Chapter 551.072, discuss acquisition, exchange, sale, and/or release of property; and, Chapter 551.071, City of Nederland v. Entergy Gulf States, Entergy, Inc. and Entergy Services, Inc.; appeal fo Texas Gas Service Company from ratesetting actions of the Cites of Nederland, Port Neches, and Groves; appeal of CenterPoint Energy Entex from ratesetting actions of the City of Nederland; and, consultation with City Attorney.

  10. RECONVENE

    The regular meeting was reconvened at 7:00 p.m. by Mayor Nugent.

  11. PERSONNEL

    Andre' Wimer, City Manager, stated that after due consideration he is recommending that Assistant Gary Collins be appointed as the Fire Chief/Fire Marshall. He added that in accordance with Chapter 143 of the Local Government Code, Municipal Civil Service, appointment of the department head is appointed by the City's chief executive and confirmed by the governing body.

    A motion was made by Mayor Nugent and seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Neal to confirm the City Manager's appointment of Gary Collins as the City of Nederland Fire Chief/Fire Marshall. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

    Chief Collins thanked the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager for the honor to serve in this capacity. He added that he never thought he would have this opportunity and will do his best to serve the City and its citizens.

  12. OFFICIALS' COMMENTS

    Andre' Wimer, City Manager, stated that Chief Collins received notification from the State of Texas Division of Emergency Management that the City received a 2005 Homeland Security Grant in the amount of $162,960. He announced that the library reopened on Tuesday, October 18th. Finally, he reported that the debris removal contractor has removed over 77,000 cu. yd. through October 20th.

  13. ADJOURN

    There being no further business a motion was made by Councilmember Sheffield and seconded by Councilmember Griffin to adjourn at 7:15 p.m. MOTION CARRIED.
    Ayes: Mayor Nugent, Councilmembers Sheffield, Neal, Griffin, and Rogers.
    Noes: None.

END Meeting Minutes from Monday, October 24, 2005


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