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City ponders road maintenance assessment
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

PAYNE SPRINGS–Payne Spring City Council members agreed to hold a number of town meetings to discuss a proposals for funding a road repair account Tuesday.
The council met at a new time it set the end of February. For years it has met at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month. That has been changed to 6:30 p.m..
After much discussion, the council asked residents to consider an annual assessment or some means of getting more money to fund road repairs, other than a property tax.
With an estimated 500-plus residences, the council estimates that at $100 each, $50,000 a year would go a long way to repairing roads over a two-year period. A few other ideas were also discussed.
“Do you know how much roadways and drainage problems could be fixed with that amount of money?” Councilman Michael Juica asked.
The money would be used only on expenses related to maintaining the roads, he added.
Some of those expenses include road material and culverts, maintenance of equipment, dump trucks, etc., fuel for the same and wages for personnel who will work on road repairs, Juica explained.
No date was set for the first of several town meetings. Council members asked those attending to discuss the subject with their neighbors and submit additional ideas to city hall. The council wants to run these ideas by the city attorney before calling a formal town hall meeting to discuss with citizens options open to the city.
In other business, council members:
• agreed to place self-adhesive carpet squares in a test area at city hall to measure the effect on the surrounding acoustics. One draw back of the new meeting room is the difficulty in distinguishing sounds in the room due to an echoing effect from the sound reverberating off the floor and walls. Two large flags spanning the width of two walls in the room have been hung, but acoustics still need improvement.
• agreed to a dollar raise to hourly wages for police Sgt. Lupe Garza, who earned an excellent review.
“Officer Garza deserves more money than we give him,” Juica said.
• no action was taken on a reporting system for the police department. The city will be seeking a grant to assist it in meeting this need.
• heard no bids were received on the city’s quest to improve the security at city hall. The issue was tabled.


City installs a smarter way to water ball fields
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–The very last visit with a vendor at the October 2011 Texas Municipal League Convention in Houston, may yield a watershed of savings for Gun Barrel City.
City manager Gerry Boren, said the UgMO booth was one of 800 booths at the convention and this one was at the end of a row in the corner, and easy to overlook.
“When I visited with the agent and realized this product might save the city both money and water, I was interested in light of plans for expanding our park,” Boren told The Monitor.
Last year, the city was paying $1,000 to $1,200 a month to water the ball fields, he said.
The literature Boren picked up from UgMO, short for underground moisture monitoring, claims to reduce irrigation water costs by as much as 20 to 50 percent.
The buried sensor collects real-time data and radios it to the base station every 10 minutes to tell it when optimal soil moisture levels are reached. No more puddling and wasteful runoff, or irrigating during a rain event.
After returning, Boren showed the company’s literature to members of the Economic Development Corporation. After further inquiries with the Pennsylvania-based company and its representative in Houston, the EDC agreed to try the soil moisture monitoring system out at the baseball fields and landscaping at city hall.
“It was a good match to the new city hall with its solar electric panels generating power on the roof,” Boren pointed out.
The EDC picked up the $7,500 cost of installing the system, which includes 26 wireless underground sensors and a signal repeater to boost the radio signal up to 2000 feet.
If the city is pleased with the first year of operations, it plans on installing them throughout the new park expansion project, Boren said.
“It's all about saving money and water by doing the same thing, more efficiently,” he added.
The city could save between $2,400 and $6,000 a year, conservatively, if the UgMO system delivers. That means it could pay for itself within 18 months of installation.
Its use should also decrease damage created by mowing an over-watered lawn and negate the occurrance of scorched turf.
And, the whole thing was installed in half a day, Boren observed.





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