Direct Energy provided Stephenville with a free energy assessment survey to determine if the city could lower energy cost. Upon completion of the survey, it was determined that a total annual savings of $24,886 at an initial cost of $137,935 with a simple payback within 5.5 years.

Rodney G. Thornton, Direct Energy's account executive, said that his company is the third largest energy company in Texas. The purpose of the company's presentations is to help people understand usage and recommend improvement. The reduction of energy usage would be through facility lighting upgrading, vending machine management, computer power management, and an energy management system. Direct Energy currently has ongoing projects operating at Texas State Technical College and in Eastland.

Council member Alan Nash, finance committee chair, said the council committee would refer the item to the staff for inquiries of other entities for details of installation, quality, and savings involved.

In other business, the finance committee discussed the hotel occupancy tax contract with the Chamber of Commerce. Since July 1974, the city has been under contract with the Chamber of Commerce to administer three-percent of the hotel occupancy tax (HOT) with the purpose of promoting the tourist and convention industry. In December 1980, the city assessed another one-percent HOT for the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council. In January 2000, an additional one-percent was allocated to the Chamber of Commerce and one-percent to the Stephenville Historical Museum.

With the influx of city revenue, the recommendation of council member Nash was to modify the contract to three-percent.

“This reduces the percent, but not the revenue based on present HOT figures,” Nash said. “With the financial calendar 2008 projections, the revenue will increase.”

President and CEO July Danley said, “I appreciate the work the council members do in taking very seriously your responsibility to allocate tax revenues in a manner beneficial to the community. As you are considering the Chamber's portion of the occupancy tax revenue contract,” she said, “I encourage you to keep in mind that the tourism funding allows us to efficiently provide information to visitors and contribute our staff energy and resources to ensure events are successful.”

Danley explained further,” As more people and events come to Stephenville, the Chamber needs to have increasing funds available to continue providing this level of service to the growing tourism industry in our great community.”

After discussion the motion for the three-precent contract failed with a 2-2 vote.

Also, the ordinance relating to taxation of goods-in-transit (HB 621) was approved by the finance committee and will be sent to council with the required public hearing on Dec. 4.

The annual review of the financial policies and the annual review of the investment policies were committee approved and will be forwarded to the full council.

Council member Malcom Cross, chair of nominations committee, and members reviewed all applications for vacancies on the boards and commissions. A list will be submitted for council's consideration at the Dec. 4 meeting.

SHERRY BOARDMAN is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune and can be reached at sherry.boardman@empiretribune.com or 254-965-3124, ext. 229.