The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

June 2, 2014

City manager to ask council for more budget amending powers

HUNTSVILLE — Huntsville City Manager Matt Benoit plans on proposing that city council members expand his powers to amend the city budget in certain circumstances.

He said this is in part to make the process more efficient for items that don’t necessarily need council’s approval.

“For example, as it stands right now, the fiscal policies require it to go to council,” Benoit said. “If someone donates $10,000 to the Wynne Home, we have to amend the budget. I can’t increase revenue or authorize expenditure.”

In effect, the money would sit in the bank until council could approve it, which could take up to three weeks.

Mayor Mac Woodward says he’d like to wait and see what Benoit presents Tuesday, but that the issue deserves some attention.

“I think this is an ongoing issue to look at,” he said. “We need to make sure the city manager can do their job. ... I think things like daily operations and routine (activities), and emergency type things (might be helpful for Benoit). We need to look at that so we don’t hamper the city.”

Although Woodward said it won’t be a completely free pass because the city council is “still in charge” of overseeing taxpayer dollars. Woodward also said something similar to what Benoit is requesting was put into place with Bill Baines, the last city manager.

The workshop will take place at 4 p.m. today.

Council will also hear an item to eliminate the easements in the future home of the Kroger grocery store in the Ravenwood Village shopping center that would double, potentially triple, the size of the current location. The easements have to be moved to accomodate parking, according to city economic development director Aron Kulhavy.

The Community Safe Room/future home of the Boys and Girls Club of Walker County is also on the agenda. City council members will decide whether or not to approve Sedalco Construction Services out of Fort Worth as the construction manager at risk (CMAR) for the project. It will provide the club with a new 8,400-square-foot building and the city with a community safe room in the case of disaster, which can hold up to 1,015 people. It will be located at the corner of Essex Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive across the street from the Huntsville ISD bus barn.

Huntsville resident and former city council candidate Kendall Scudder is the first to sign up for the new “citizen participation” section on the agenda that replaced the old public comment. Coincidentally, Scudder will be discussing Ordinance 2014-33 that replaced the old Rules of Procedure, which dictates how meetings run including any public comments, with the updated ones.

The new rules require any public comments to be filed at least a week prior to the following council meeting.

The city council meeting will be at 6 p.m. today following the workshop and a presentation to city scholarship recipients at Huntsville City Hall.


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