By George Slaughter
“It’s time to implement the planning that has been going on for the past six months,” Mayor Chuck Brawner said in an interview.
Costello, the firm hired by the city to develop the storm water management plan, expects to provide the city with a design in March. Brawner said the city expects to put the plan out for bid quickly to start the process.
Part of the project involves cleaning out and paving the Magnolia ditch. Another part of the project is the reconstruction of 1st Street, where, with METRO funding, the plan is to widen the street and improve drainage to improve storm water flow.
Brawner said approximately 149 homes in that area flooded. Not all the residents of those homes have returned to them.
METRO funding is helping defray some of the costs, but to pay for these projects, Brawner said it is very likely that a bond election will be called this year.
“There’s only one way to pay for these storm water management projects, and that’s with a bond election,” Brawner said. “It’s helping us with west Katy that we’re using METRO funds, but we still have other areas have to address.”
Brawner said the storm water projects were not focused on just one area of the city.
“It’s going to be all these areas here that we have to deal with,” he said.
In addition to the projects in the works, the city has purchased equipment and hired additional public works equipment operators to do a better job of maintaining the drainage.
The storm water management projects around the city are the big focus for the city as it begins 2018. But the city hall building itself is also undergoing repairs because of the flood. The city’s permits office has returned to its first-floor offices, but the doors are being replaced and the elevator is expected to be repaired next month.
Most of the staff working at city hall have their offices on the second or third floors. Not having a working elevator, some have joked, helps lower the city’s health care costs.
To manage these and other projects, Brawner said he holds a project review meeting with City Administrator Byron Hebert every other week. In some cases, such as the Katy Boardwalk and the new fire station, inclement weather has hampered progress, but the work continues.
With the fire station, the city last year received a grant to hire and begin training the firefighters who will staff that station.
“It’s (the fire station) not moving as fast as I’d like,” Brawner said. “We’ve had a hard time getting that one going with all the rain.”
The city has also streamlined the process by which contracts are approved, signed, and implemented.
“We want to approve them on Monday, sign them on Wednesday, and then the clock starts running,” Brawner said, adding that the city is working to include incentive and penalty clauses in its contracts.
“There were no penalties for starting late,” Brawner said. “Basically, there were no incentives to finish on time or ahead of time.”
The process is being changed so the vendor with the winning bid has 10 business days from the signing of the contract to start the project.
“If they don’t start, then there’s going to be a penalty every day,” Brawner said. “There’s an incentive at the end, depending on the cost of the project.”
In action at its first meeting of the year Monday, the council:
- Approved minutes for the October 23, November 13, November 30, and December 11 council meetings.
- Approved the 1st Street 5K Run for West Houston/Katy Rotaract Club for June 16.
- Approved an $8,250 dues payment for the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce.
- Approved the street light layout for Young Ranch sections 9 and 11.
- Approved a final plat for the Falls at Green Meadows subdivision in Waller County.
- Adopted a resolution nominating Dennis Gordon to serve on the West Harris County Regional Water Authority Board of Directors.
- Authorized issuance of $4,185,000 in unlimited tax bonds by Fort Bend-Waller County’s Municipal Utility District No. 3. These bonds are for infrastructure projects within the district but required city approval because the district operates within city limits.