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City of Livingston adopts budget, approves 5.1% pay raise

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City of Livingston LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Following a public hearing in which no one spoke, the Livingston City Council approved the proposed ordinance adopting its budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2021 and ends Sept. 30, 2022 during its regular meeting Tuesday. Also approved were adjustments to the budget for the fiscal year ending September 30.

Council approved the proposed salary schedule for the fiscal year beginning that begins October 1. The salary schedule reflects a 5.1% cost of living/salary increase.

A public hearing on the determination of unsafe and/or dilapidated buildings and cleanup of property located at 154 Banks Drive was held. City Attorney James W. “Jim” Wright showed photos and video taken by City Fire Marshal/Code Enforcement Officer Josh Mohler of the grounds and the structure itself, which showed rotten studs, mold, the ceiling caving in in multiple areas and deteriorated walls. Mohler said the city has received several complaints over the last few years regarding the property. In conclusion, Molher said there are a number of code violations, that the building is unsafe in its entirety, that it has partially collapsed and may completely collapse at some point. He added that there is even a possibility of asbestos contamination.

According to the official public records of Polk County, the property, formerly known as Burmont Nursing Center, was deeded to Robert Hill in 2015. He died in 2016 and his two of his five heirs, Siblings Carrie Hill and Lavoris Hill, only learned of his ownership of the property after his death.

When asked about their plans for the property, Carrie Hill said, “We’re not in a position to say. We have to do a feasibility study.”

When asked about her time frame, Hill said, “It would probably take a few months. You presented your view based on your objectives. We owe it to ourselves to go through all six wings ourselves with people we’ve selected.”

“Isn’t it obvious to y’all that that is a hazard? I’ve been on this council many, many years and I don’t ever remember seeing anything in this bad a shape,” Councilman Clarke Evans said.

“This is a matter that we take very seriously. I think from our standpoint we just need some time, at least 90 days or to the end of the year,” Hill said.

“It’s my opinion that the building needs to come down,” Councilman Alan Cook said.

“I agree with Alan. We have a responsibility to our people in the community,” Evans said.

Following a motion and a second, Council voted in favor of giving the Hills 45 days to have the building investigated for asbestos and if found, remediated, and then demolish the building.

Council received a status update regarding repairs to a building located at 1958 South Washington. Enough work has been done to the exterior of the structure that it is no longer considered dilapidated which means that demolition is off the table. However, the owner will be unable to get city services until every requirement on the list is fulfilled.

The city’s pro-rata share of the 2021 dues for Brazos Transit—$4,200—were approved. Council also approved a proposed resolution designating the Polk County Enterprise as the official newspaper for the city for the upcoming fiscal year.

During his monthly report, City Manager Bill S. Wiggins informed Council that the September sales tax from the state comptroller reflects $373,441.92 for the month of July 2021, a 0.98% increase over the same time last year.

Wiggins gave an update on the following current development projects:

Baskin Development Duplexes – They have cleared an additional 20 lots for additional housing units adjacent to this project. They have been visiting with city staff about building more housing units. They acquired the 60-acre tract located on the east side of Pan American Drive with the intention of constructing additional housing and perhaps a commercial project.

Blue Wave Carwash at 1829 US Hwy. 190 West – Apollo Construction is the on-site contractor. Work has begun.

Country Place Senior Living/Assisted Living at 1860 N. Washington – F&H are the contractors. Work is ongoing. They are hoping to be open in December.

Livingston Pioneer Crossing Apartments at 1101 Dogwood – Watermark Commercial is the contractor. Work is ongoing.

Livingston Shopping Center at 1219 W. Church (the old Jackson building) – it is built out for four separate spaces, one being a potential eatery.

Danny Moseley at 213/215 Jack Moseley Boulevard – A permit has been issued for construction of a new townhome. Dirt work has started.

Panda Express at 1630 W. Church St. (Walmart parking lot) – Regis Construction is the contractor. The permit has been issued and work has begun.

7-11 Store at 1605 W. Church St. (Old Raceway) – A permit has been issued for the remodel of the store.

Tractor Supply at 1820 US Highway 190 West – About to remodel.

Wiggins reported on the completion of the Livingston Senior Apartments at 1600 N. Houston, Long Branch Steakhouse on the bypass, Petalz at 500 N. Washington and Starbucks at 1626 W. Church St.

He also reported that Union Pacific Railroad will be working on the railroad crossing at the intersection of US Hwy. 190 and Jackson Street on Sunday and Monday, September 19-20. Additionally, he said Texas Department of Transportation will be mowing the highway medians on US Hwy. 190 (east and west) and on US Hwy. 59 beginning October 1.

Other business included approval of accounts over $500 as well as minutes of the August 10 meeting.

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