Tonight’s meeting of the Stephenville City Council will kick off with lobbyist Larry D. Meyers, of Meyers & Associates, addressing the group.

Following a recommendation by Mayor Nancy Hunter, the council voted to hire the firm for “government and relations consulting services” in February, which made Meyers the first to provide the city with federal representation. In approving a contract with the firm, the city anted up $50,000 for a one-year contract.

At the time the contract was approved, council member Alan Nash said he was “torn” over the contract because of the expense, but willing to give the firm a shot at bringing federal funding to Stephenville.

“I am hopeful this is a small investment in comparison to the return,” Nash said in February. “If we can accomplish one project and bring some federal dollars back to local taxpayers, I will be satisfied. We have failed on certain projects and I want to find an alternative means for accomplishing those goals. And this is an opportune time since the new administration is about to go on a spending spree.”

With little mention of Meyers at several months of council meetings, the firm’s president is expected to deliver an update on the ongoing progress on Capital Hill.

In other items of business, the council will consider action on a number of items recently discussed by council committees.

Following the Oct. 13 meeting of the Finance Committee, the council will consider an electric franchise agreement with Oncor Electric Delivery.

According to information presented by City Administrator Mark Kaiser, the current agreement, which was adopted in 1960 and has been amended three times during the 50-year contract period, will expire on March 1, 2010. The new agreement proposes a 20-year term, versus the current 50-year contract.

Rob McCune, Oncor’s franchise manager, said the company currently has 401 cities under similar agreements and said for the most part, the agreements are uniform.

“The proposed franchise was prepared utilizing our standard franchise language and incorporates existing payment provisions as contained in the current franchise and its amendments,” McCune said.

Also relevant to the Finance Committee, the council will consider adopting an ordinance authorizing city administration to pursue two energy efficiency grants with Oncor and the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO).

Oncor’s “Take a Load Off, Texas” is a 50/50 matching grant, which would reward the chosen city with funding not to exceed $50,000.

The SECO is offering funds through Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). It is anticipated that the city will qualify for $50,000, which does not require matching funds.

Kaiser said in October if both grants are approved, the city could benefit from $150,000 in improvements by investing only $50,000. He also said possible projects for utilizing the funding could be the installation of a new roof and the replacement of certain windows at City Hall.

The council will also consider approving a project partnership agreement with the Department of the Army for the construction of an aquatic ecosystem restoration project, which has been on the drawing board for at least a decade. If approved, the wetlands project would help the city clean up the Bosque River, create a self-maintaining habitat and also address the problem of cleaning up the drying beds at the waste water treatment plant.

Kaiser explained in October that what was once estimated to be a $1 million project that would require a $300,000 contribution from the city, has likely grown to a $3-4 million project that would cost Stephenville about $1.1 million.

Relevant to the council’s Planning and Development Committee, the council will consider an ordinance prohibiting wind turbines in the city limits; consider relocation of the T-Ball fields in City Park; and consider a historical marker application for the Erath Arches. 

In regards to the Public Health and Safety Committee, the council will consider adopting a loitering ordinance. The ordinance was forwarded by a unanimous vote of approval from the committee and was spurred by complaints from merchants at the Bosque River Center.

“The purpose of the loitering ordinance is to protect businesses and their property and also protect the young people,” Police Chief Roy Halsell said.

The city council meets at 5:30 p.m. today in the Council Chambers at City Hall.