Sealy increasing water, sewer rates

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The Sealy City Council proposed rate increases for water and sewer during its meeting on Sept. 3.

Under the proposal, fixed water rates for a ¾-inch line would go from $14.87 to $16.50 and a one-inch line would go from $14.87 to $19.60. Volumetric charges per 1,000 gallons would go to $.90 for the first 2,000 gallons and from $3.51 to $3.50 for 2,001-8,000 gallons. From 8,001 to 23,000 gallons the rate goes from $3.73 to $4.40.

For sewer, the regular fixed rate will go from $20.11 to $21 and the flat rate stays at $35.71. Volumetric charges per 1,000 gallons will start at $.60 up to 2,000 gallons and for more than 2,000 it will increase from $1.43 to $2.25.

The rates will take effect Oct. 1, assuming they are passed on a second reading at the Sept. 17 meeting.

City Manager Lloyd Merrell said the increases are the first of four annual increases necessary to increase rates by 44% to cover the cost of service.

“We have to do it if we are ever going to get our finances straight in the utility department,” he said.

E-cig, vaping ordinances

The council also changed two ordinances to redefine electronic cigarettes, vaping, and similar products while prohibiting their sale to minors and restricting public places where they can be used.

Chapter 42 of the city’s ordinances will read: “Electronic cigarette, e-cigarette, or electronic smoking device means any electronic or mechanical device that uses a heating element designed or intended to vaporize, or is capable of vaporizing, a liquid solution containing nicotine or other substances for inhalation. This term shall include every variation and type of such devices whether they are manufactured, distributed, marketed or sold as an electronic cigarette, an electronic cigar, an electronic cigarillo, an electronic pipe, an electronic hookah, an electronic vaping device, or any other product name or descriptor.”

The ordinance prohibits the sale, use and possession of electronic cigarettes, products and paraphernalia to minors. Violators can be fined up to $500.

Chapter 66 of the city’s ordinances was changed to limit places where smoking and vaping can take place in public. The ordinance says:

“It shall be unlawful for anyone to be in possession of a burning tobacco product, smoking of tobacco, or use of an electronic cigarette, e-cigarette, or electronic smoking device as defined in section 42-128 in any of the following areas:

(1) A facility of a public primary or secondary school;

(2) An elevator;

(3) Enclosed theater or movie house;

(4) Library;

(5) Museum;

(6) Hospital;

(7) Nursing home or convalescent home;

(8) All city facilities, vehicles, and/or equipment;

(9) Community center;

(10) Within food product establishments in areas where unpackaged food is prepared, packaged or displayed, or in utensil washing areas;

(11) In serving lines where unpackaged food is displayed and/or served to the customer;

(12) At serving counters, including self-serve counters, where unpackaged food is displayed and/or served to the customer; and

(13) At serving counters or tables where customer seating is provided where unpackaged food is displayed and/or served to the customer.”

Violators can be fined up to $500.

Spending money

The council nearly unanimously approved several spending packages at the meeting. It approved on second reading the expenditure of up to $9,000 by the Sealy Economic Development Corporation for the Main Street Program (with Larry Koy voting against). It approved the first of two reading for $75,000 in incentives for Hailiang Copper Texas by the Sealy EDC.

The council entered into a 380 agreement (a performance contract) with Sika, Inc., to set up payments of $80,000. The city owes the company approximately $300,000 for the installation of a wastewater pre-treatment facility. Sealy has up to 20 years to pay back the money. This was the first of two readings.

The council also approved paying BNSF Railroad $7,000 to tunnel a water line under its tracks across Main Street.

Off the table

The council tabled two items related to creating a Capital Improvements Advisory Committee. Originally the Planning Commission was going to serve as the committee, but state regulations require members to have real estate or development experience. The council will review resumes from applicants to find qualified committee members.

Other news:

  • The council is considering a proposal to remove parking from the middle of Main Street and setting up parking spots on Front Street.
  • The council is considering action to limit the number of pop-up wrecker storage yards by possibly limiting the number of companies that can operate in the city and limiting the number of storage yards each can have.
  • The council received a report from Sealy News Publisher Karen Lopez about Boo Bash on Oct. 31 downtown and the necessary street closures for it.

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