Council votes to leave Ward One vacant, again
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Council votes to leave Ward One vacant, again

Oct 28, 2023

May 4—The Huntsville City Council voted not to rescind their action to leave Ward One position vacant until November 2023 on Tuesday. The position was made vacant with the resignation of former Councilmember Daiquiri Beebe, which was accepted by council in a special meeting on March 13.

On March 21, the Council voted to leave the seat vacant, but according to City Manager Aron Kulhavy, additional information regarding the procedure was made available for Council to consider.

"We want the voters to decide who fills that position," said Councilmember Vicki McKenzie, who made the motion to rescind the vote.

McKenzie explained after the meeting, City Attorney Leonard Schneider brought forth information from the City Charter regarding vacancies. The City Charter indicates vacancies under 12 months may be left vacant if a Council chooses that option, according to Section 4.17. Huntsville is a home-rule city, with the original charter approved by citizens and adopted on Sept. 28, 1968, in which the charter also mentions forfeiture of office due to absence under Section 4.18: The Mayor or a Councilmember who is absent from more than four consecutive regular meetings of the Council, unless such absences are the result of illness or the conduct of official City business, shall be deemed to have forfeited the office and the Council shall fill such vacancy in the manner prescribed by the Charter.

McKenzie received a second by Mayor Andy Brauninger.

With no discussion taking place, a roll-call vote was held with all members present voting not to rescind their actions and let the voters of the Ward elect the next representative. The resulting vote was McKenzie with a yes to rescind and a clear no from Mayor Brauninger, Mayor Pro Tem Russell Humphrey, and Councilmembers Karen Denman, Bert Lyle, John Strong and Delores Massey.

In other business, Council approved the contract with CZ Construction for the rehabilitation of sewer lines in the amount of $160,000. During the inspection for inflow and infiltration, staff identified sections of clay tile sewer lines, including 313 feet of 6-inch line in the rear right-of-way between Pine Valley and Brittany Lane; 324 feet of 6-inch line in the rear right-of-way between Plum Creek and Brittany Lane; and 322 feet of 18-inch line in the Hillcrest right-of-way near Veterans Memorial. All lines will be replaced with HDPE pipe.

The Council also adopted the ordinance renaming Parkwood Drive to Wischnewsky Drive. They also adopted a resolution supporting the application for funding for FishPond Living at Walker, located at 935 State Highway 190 East. The funding will provide for 48 additional units, much like the location on FM 247. The funding is a federal grant that developers use to score better in the process.

The Council also approved the settlement of a proposed rate increase of Entergy Texas, Inc. with approval of the ordinance and waiving of the second reading.

Schneider explained that Entergy requested to raise revenue $131.4 million, but have agreed $54 million which is 58.9 percent lower than the original request.

The proposed settlement rate is $147.16, an increase of approximately $6.35 per month, or 4.51 percent over current rates.