The Marshall City Council partially approved a resolution altering the 2021 annual budget during its Thursday virtual city council meeting.

The budget item was tabled after the city’s last meeting when issues over funding for the new Animal Adoption Center came up.

Councilmembers were concerned over the costs the city was incurring the fund the new shelter project, referencing specifically two budget items for $89,451 and $40,000 (for furniture and fixtures) for the project that were being funded out of the city’s general fund, if approved.

Due to the ongoing disagreement councilmembers, opted to vote on each item on the amended budget one by one, approving all of the proposed budget changes, except for the two regarding the animal shelter.

Additionally, two resolutions regarding chattel slavery in Marshall that were highly controversial since being brought to the council during the group’s last meeting died on the council floor due to lack of action.

Councilmembers attempted to alter the resolution being proposed, to reflect a version that has been edited since the last meeting. The attempted alteration of the resolution was denied, by a vote of three to four with councilmembers Amanda Abraham, Micah Fenton, Amy Ware and Terri Brown voting against the revision.

Without the revised edition being added to the agenda, no action was taken on either resolution.

Additionally, councilmembers approved funding for the city’s 2021 Cradle Entrepreneurship Program at $50,000 during Thursday’s meeting.

Community and Economic Development Director Fabio Angell presented the project to councilmembers, explaining that the program is a way to foster start-ups locally.

“We want to have a program that helps startups thrive, grow and create jobs, because at the end of the day the bottom line for the city is to expand our tax base,” Angell’s said.

The program offers local entrepreneurs and start ups to apply for the program, with a panel of five judges selecting five winners from those that apply.

Winners will receive a $10,000 cash start up fund, along with $40,000 in in-kind usage of resources and facilities within the city of Marshall to help ensure their success.

“We want Marshall be a go to place for start up business, we want to create that niche,” said City Manager Mark Rohr, emphasizing that this satisfies one of the goals of the city’s 2019 Mobilize Marshall plan.

Councilmembers also approved a water and waste water rate increase plan, after a presentation on a study done on the city’s rates.

Public Works Director Eric Powell said that the city hired New Gen Strategies and Solutions to conduct a rate study to determine the economic feasibility of the city’s current water and waste water rates.

Chris Krut with New Gen Strategies and Solutions said that the study showed that the city has not had a rate increase since 2018, which has resulted in the combined water and waste water rate revenue not being sufficient to cover the costs of running and maintain the system.

“If we do nothing, by 2023 we will be in the negative,” Krut said.

Powell said that the rate increase will open up more revenue for the department to continue the work they outline in the Capital Improvement Plan.

The rate increase will go into effect June 2021, with a first year increase of about 14 percent, with the next four years, starting January 2022, increasing the rate by about 3 percent.

A public hearing and ordinance amending the official zoning map for a project on South Garrett Street, from a planned development to a single family detached was also presented to councilmembers during the meeting.

The ordinance change was approved unanimously after no comments were made by community members during the public hearing.

Another ordinance, which altered the official speed for a section of IH-20 within the Marshall city limits from 75 mph to 70 mph was approved by councilmembers on Thursday.

Police Chief Cliff Carruth presented on the ordinance, stating that the decision was recommended based on safety concerns on that portion of road.

One ordinance that was tabled at the city’s last meeting regarding the “animals and fowl” section of the code of ordinances also passed unanimously Thursday.

The ordinances include a confinement ordinance, a tethering ordinance, a public nuisance ordinance, an annual vaccination ordinance and spay and neuter ordinance, with exceptions

The issue was tabled at the last meeting after Councilmember Amanda Abraham raised concerns over requiring all dogs in Marshall be spayed and neutered.

The new version of the ordinance presented by Carruth Thursday altered this section of the spay and neuter ordinance, which would only require the animal to be spayed or neutered after multiple citations for visits to the city’s pound.

Carruth also presented on a number of new ordinances regarding animal control during the meeting, which were tabled.

Powell also presented to councilmembers on Thursday regarding a resolution for council approval to suspend the effective date proposed by CenterPoint Energy to increase rates under the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program for 45 days, and authorize the city’s continued participation in a coalition of cities known as the “Alliance of CenterPoint Municipalities”.

The resolution was approved unanimously during the meeting.

City Council also approved the creation of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or TIFF, for a portion of the downtown area.

Rohr said that the creation of the TIFF was not a tax increase, but rather a smart and creative tool to utilize and fund other improvements. He said that it is the third step in the city’s ongoing Downtown Redevelopment Plan, which was created as a portion of the city’s Mobilize Marshall plan.

“At the end of the day, the bottom line is it is to increase our tax base,” Angell said.

Additionally during the meeting all recommendations to the city for hotel occupancy tax fund grants, or HOT fund grants, were approved unanimously.

Recommendations to the council for funds allocations included the Texas State Federation of Square and Round Dancers and the Caddo Kennel Club, both for the use of local facilities.

Additionally, The Michelson Museum of Art is will receive $8,000 in grant funds, Gobble Up The Cash Barrel Race will receive $5,000 in grant funds, and Josey Ranch will receive $22,500 in grant funds.

This meeting was Mayor Terri Brown’s last official meeting for the city of Marshall, with her term expiring at the end of this month.

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