City of Bartlett
140 W. Clark St. - Post Office Drawer H - Bartlett, Texas 76511 - 254.527.3219 254.527.4280fax
By Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Sandobal
Plans are in place and making progress!
Plans are in place and making progress!
Your City Council has been moving ahead, fast and furious, and has setup plans to handle and take care of city issues and needs:
Issue: The city accounting has been in chaos for years. Accounting entries of expenses and revenues have not been made or have been erroneously posted; bills were not being paid or were being paid twice; payroll was not properly completed; time sheets were changed; child support was not being sent to the right agencies; the employee health insurance premium was not paid and employees had no coverage. Most significantly, annual audits (required by law) have not been completed for the past two years. Without an audit (a city’s “credit report”) the City may not be able to qualify for loans and grants.
Solution: Since January, a Financial Analyst, now City Treasurer, has been working straightening out the messy books. In one month, over $200,000 of bills were paid; deposits are being timely made (including $60,000 of paid checks found stuffed in drawers); and once the books are corrected, the audit will begin.
Issue: Sludge has been building up at the wastewater treatment plant for years. It could cost up to $2,000,000 to clean out the sludge or to build a new plant. The pedosphere water tank is in danger of collapse. The lift stations are in disrepair (one leaking hydrogen sulfide). TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) has fined the City since 2010 for violations throughout the water/wastewater systems.
Solution: A water/wastewater utility systems operator has been managing the systems and working with TCEQ since December to finally get the City back into legal compliance after years of violations.
Solution: A newly hired city engineer is designing plans to either repair or overhaul the wastewater treatment plant and is also working right now on repairs to the pedosphere water tank.
Solution: A new grant administrator will begin applying for much needed loans and grants to help pay for these major infrastructure projects.
Solution: The new $300,000 Community Development Grant will be used to pay for repairs and renovations to the lift station and wastewater plant.
Issue: Since 1930, the City’s biggest asset is its electric system generating revenue as well as electricity for the City. But over its 80 years of existence, it has developed many problems: it is in need of repair; maintenance is overdue: transformers blow out regularly; dangerous electric situations exist.
Solution: An electric engineer is conducting a study of the electric system. This study will outline the repairs needed, and how to make the system more productive, more cost effective and more cost efficient.
Issue: For years, development has been slowing down; there has been little growth; the City’s economy has become stagnant. Soon to be a big impact: the closing of the Bartlett State Jail, which means the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in water/wastewater revenue to the city, approximately $432,000 a year.
Solution: Two new economic entities are finally being setup: the Municipal Development District (MDD) and, soon, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Since 2014, you, as the taxpayer, have been paying your sales taxes, almost $75,000 to date, for these two groups. Today, a Board of Directors has been selected for the MDD and applications are being accepted for the EDC. Their job will be to push for programs to build up our economy, create development and promote our businesses. With these efforts, the City might be able to replace some of the lost state jail revenue.
Issue: For years, there has been no productive management at city hall; work was not completed; bills were way overdue; oversight has been lacking. There were reports of employee intimidation. In January, Council approved having one councilmember begin paying the bills. She found complete disorganization, piles of documents unfiled, and reports not completed or incomplete.
Solution: A new Office Administrator will start in May. This will bring solid management and efficient operations to city hall. Most importantly, this will create a solid, positive, healthy work environment that our employees deserve, and which, in turn, will result in productive services to our citizens.
Fire and Police Protection
Issue: The Bartlett Volunteer Fire Department receives about $50,000 a year from the City. That pays for over $9,000 in insurance, fuel, equipment and other costs. However, there is no agreement in place with the BVFD which shows how the money is spent and nothing to protect the BVFD about getting city money. The Police Department did not get money for another officer in the budget by the Mayor last October. The PD is short-staffed.
Solution: By a majority vote, the Council approved an agreement with the BVFD. With this Memorandum of Understanding, citizens are guaranteed fire service and the BVFD will continue to receive funds from the City. Also, by majority vote, funding for another police officer is back in the budget. This will provide additional protection to our citizens.
The Budget: Last September, the city budget was approved with a negative $500,000 balance, before it was known about the state jail closing! With the closing, the budget will be impacted harder. Hard decisions must be made.
The Water Rate: The budget had a water rate increase in it put in place by the Mayor. This took effect when the budget was approved. This must be removed.
Utility Fees: The utility bill has a charge for SWR2. No one knows what this is for! It must be changed.
The State Jail Closing: In all certainty, the state jail will close. The City Council and community leaders must work with the State of Texas about the future of the property.
Our City is facing challenges, but in working together, we are making changes for a better Bartlett for you!