By Lauren Cabral and Mason W. Canales
The Cove Herald
Copperas Cove City Council
The City Council decided to support the low construction bid for the Southeast Bypass Project by James Construction Group LLC for $43,078,679.02, along with a $3,489,000 force account deposit Tuesday at a special meeting.
Bids for the project were let May 4. City Manager Andrea Gardner said she received a call Friday from the Texas Department of Transportation requesting the meeting be called to authorize a letter of support for the bid, since coupled with the contract force account totals $46,567,679.02, exceeding the $46.4 million available for the project.
Gardner said that had the bid and force account not been more than the available funds, TxDOT would have approved the bid without council support at its May 26 commission meeting in Austin, which it will still do since the council Tuesday authorized Gardner to execute a letter of support to TxDOT for the bid.
In March, the city deposited $45.4 million with TxDOT for the project. The federal government will provide $1 million in Category 10 funds, making total funds available for the project $46.4 million. Should the full contractor force account deposit prove necessary, project overrun will be $167,679.02.
Gardner explained that when James Construction Group bid, it did not bid on the costs associated with moving a landfill in the bypass's path off Farm-to-Market 116, and building over it, as well as costs for police traffic control. She said TxDOT had several entities survey the landfill and were confident with the $3,489,000 estimate, but the actual cost could be lower.
If the project does generate overrun, the council's support of the award will require the city to provide additional funding not to exceed $167,679.02, which would either be included in the general fund's annual operating budget or provided through a budget amendment by city staff.
Gardner said city staff had come up with a plan to set aside money each year during the project's construction to come up with the $167,679.02, which would have to be approved at a later date by the council.
If the actual cost exceeds the estimate, amendments to the project will have to be presented and approved by the council as they come up.
Gardner said the project is expected to begin in August or September and emphasized construction would begin on the city's east side.
Copperas Cove Independent School District
The Copperas Cove Independent School District board of trustees froze teachers' salaries and withdrew the superintendent's raise Tuesday to help prepare for budget shortfalls in the upcoming fiscal year.
By freezing salaries, the district anticipates saving about $550,000. The district estimates it needs about a $5 million budget cut as the state reduces education spending.
The salary schedule for CCISD teachers will decrease by an experience step while teachers will continue to advance on that experience step.
"A person who is here for three years will be moving up the schedule but the (salary) schedule will be moving with them," Superintendent Rose Cameron said during Tuesday's meeting, explaining how the freeze works on paper.
A teacher who started this year at $42,050 would not receive a pay increase in the fall, but would still be considered a second-year teacher next year.
The board also lowered the salary for starting teachers to $41,800, so teachers starting next year won't make the same amount as a second-year teacher.
Despite the starting salary reduction, CCISD will remain competitive for new teachers by offering them at least $400 more than other area districts, Barbara Tate, CCISD's executive director of human resource services, said at a workshop meeting Monday.
The teachers earn more than their peers in the Killeen, Belton and Temple school districts, Tate said.
Teachers aren't the only employees who will have their pay frozen.
The pay schedule will also be moved for the support staff. Starting positions for those hourly employees will be decreased by about 10 cents an hour.
Cameron won't get a $4,500 raise the school board gave her in January. This keeps Cameron's annual salary at $150,000.
Freezing salaries coupled with the decision last month to not increase the compensation for employee benefits, the board expects to save about $880,000.
The board of trustees also approved:
A memorandum of understanding with Central Texas College for dual-credit courses.
A memorandum of understanding with America's Drug Free Productions.
The joint use of facilities with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas.
Elementary administrative support staffing guidelines.
A fiscal year 2010-11 budget amendment.
A Texas Association of School Board policy item for special programs, such as gifted and talented.
Coryell County Commissioners Court
GATESVILLE - The Coryell County Commissioners Court voted to extend the existing burn ban Monday for an additional 90 days.
Under the ban, which runs through the first week of August, controlled burns for agricultural production or management purposes are allowed if conditions become favorable upon the prior approval of Fire Marshal Billy Vaden and notification to the Coryell County Sheriff's Department.
Coryell County Judge John Firth also produced letters from Vaden and Copperas Cove Fire Chief Mike Baker asking the commissioners to extend the burn ban, citing high fuel prices and extreme fire danger.
Commissioners also discussed installing a water irrigation system for the Coryell County Courthouse's yard in Gatesville. Commissioners Don Jones and Daren Moore met with Historical Society members to come up with a proposal for the project, which is expected to cost $11,857.
Firth said the project could save the county money since it would cut labor costs for moving sprinklers around and allow the grass to be watered at night instead of midday.
Commissioner Jack Wall said replacing the grass with rocks or dirt might be a more economical solution, since it would eliminate water bills. Commissioner Justin Latham suggested replacing the non-native St. Augustine grass with buffalo grass could save money.
The court did not take action on the item, pending more research on alternative projects.
Following a workshop to discuss jail and inmate needs, the court approved a resolution to have a joint public meeting with Gatesville City Council members, at a time and place chosen by the council.
Other actions taken by the court included:
Scheduling a meeting for the Coryell County Redistricting Committee to discuss redistricting of Coryell County Commissioners precincts.
Awarding a motor grader bid for the Coryell County Road and Bridge Department.
Lampasas County Commissioners Court
LAMPASAS - Lampasas County Commissioners awarded contracts for fuel service and road base at a Monday meeting.
The county received two bids for fuel service at gas stations from Valero and Texas Fleet Fuel, both for 8 cents above the wholesale cost, for vehicles to fill up at a gas station.
Texas Fleet Fuels already operates Shell stations in Lometa, Lampasas and Kempner, said Susie Lafuente, deputy chief county auditor.
The commissioners selected Texas Fleet Fuels to provide the fueling service for county vehicles based on the location and number of stations in the county.
The county also was seeking a contract for fuel delivery, but it received no bids for the service.
The county's previous contractor was Johnson Oils of Nolanville.
However, the lack of a fuel delivery doesn't mean a lot to the county, Judge Wayne Boultinghouse said.
The county will still be able to operate without the service; vehicles will just have to fill up at a pump instead of a county station.
The commissioners also awarded a contract bid from L.A. Porter for non-spec flex base material for $4.85 per ton.
L.A. Porter also was the previous contractor who provided the material prior to Monday's action, but the price for the material was previously $4.25 per ton.
The commissioners also took the following actions:
Awarded a contract bid for the county's rolling stock to Extraco Bank.
Awarded a contract bid for the county's workers' compensation to Texas Political Subdivision.
Approved an update of the hazard mitigation plan for the Colorado River Basin flood plain area.
Approved seeking contract bids for aggregate surface treatment.
Lampasas City Council
LAMPASAS - The Lampasas City Council agreed Monday to submit a preliminary application to the Texas Capital Fund Grant Program in support of the Colonial Court LLC Assisted Living Center project.
Colonial Court is seeking $750,000 in state funding through the Texas Department of Agriculture's Rural Economic Development program to extend water and sewer utilities into the proposed Colonial Court project, which had its preliminary platting last month on Old Georgetown Road, according to city documents.
The development will consist of an assisted living center, several elderly single-family dwellings and duplexes, and a commercial site.
Assistant City Manager Stacy Brack said the city will not have to match any of the funds, but rather the business, Colonial Court, will match the grant.
However, the city will have to pay for the cost of running advertisements for the public hearing that is required for the business to seek the grant, Brack said.
The application of the grant also doesn't affect the city's ability to apply for other grants given by the program, Brack said.
The city already has scheduled the hearing for May 23.
The council also took the following actions:
Permitted the Sulphur Creek Cook's Challenge to take place at the south end of Campbell Park next year during the same weekend of Bloomin' Fest.
Permitted a free swim day at Hancock Free Flow Swimming Pool on June 25 to celebrate the pool's 100th birthday.
Approved the purchase of 7,000 gallons of aviation fuel for the municipal airport at an estimated $4.49 per gallon.
Read about other actions taken by your local governing bodies by reading the Killeen Daily Herald or go to www.kdhnews.com