City Council OKs zoning rule changes

LeAnda Staebner
Stephenville Empire-Tribune

The Stephenville City Council met in regular session on Tuesday evening with a short agenda and a quick turnaround.

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The main topic of discussion was a list of recommendations from the city's Planning and Zoning Commission on changing some regulations regarding permitted uses.

At a May meeting, the council asked the group to review and propose changes to the regulations after questions were raised about the zoning rules regarding several types of businesses, specifically a tattoo parlor and a semi-permanent make-up business. The way the ordinances read, those businesses fall within the industrial zoning category.

The city has about 175 permitted uses in its zoning code, said Steve Killen, Developmental Services director, at the time. "I think there's a lot of room for improvement," he added.

According to the agenda item, the Planning and Zoning Commission met on May 19 to begin reviewing permitted uses to bring recommendations to the City Council.

The commission made the following recommendations, which the council unanimously approved Tuesday evening:

1. Tattoo Parlor/Body Piercing Studios – to allow as a permitted use in B-2 and B-3 districts, removing from Industrial.

2. Tattoo Parlor/Body Piercing Studios – to allow as a permitted use in the DT district.

3. Personal Service Shop (beauty, barber and the like) – recommended to leave as currently listed in B-1, B-2, B-3 and DT zoning districts.

4. Bed and Breakfast and Bed and Breakfast/Boarding House – to combine as one permitted use as Bed and Breakfast/Boarding House in zoning districts B-1, B-3 and DT.

5. Bicycle Sales and Rentals – to allow as a permitted use in zoning districts B-2, B-3 and DT.

6. Bakery and Confectionary Shops – to combine all bakery related permitted use, with exception to wholesale and distribution, into Bakery Retail for zoning districts B-1, B-2, B-3 and DT.

7. Bakery Wholesale/Distribution – to allow as a permitted use for the Industrial zoning district.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will continue to review the city's zoning ordinances and make additional recommendations at upcoming meetings.

Financial report

Monica Harris, city finance director, gave a report on the city's financial status as of the end of April.

"Overall, we're in a pretty good position," Harris said, adding that the financial indicators vary with an overall positive outcome.

Property tax: The city received $26,000 in property taxes in the month of April, resulting in $238,000 or 3.82% increase over funds collected through last April. The $6.47 million collected fiscal year to date is 97.41% of budget, which is slightly less than the 98.04% anticipated.

Sales tax: The city received $441,000 in sales tax in April, resulting in $584,000 or 15.58% more than the funds collected through last April. The $4.3 million collected fiscal year to date is 69.46% of the $6.24 million budgeted, which is higher than the 57.54% anticipated.

HOT funds: Lodging establishments have reported $235,300 in Hotel Occupancy Taxes through April, as compared to the $234,600 through last April. The city has received $42,000 in sports venue tax through April. The city has spent $238,000 in HOT  funds through fiscal year to date as compared to $109,000 last year due to the Day Tripper contract and gateway planning.

Revenue (Budgetary comparison): The target budget for operating revenue is $18.8 million. The city received $19.2 million in revenue fiscal year to date, resulting in $409,000 over the target budget due to sales taxes and service charges.

Expenditures (Budgetary comparison): The target budget for operating expenditures is $12.1 million. The city expended $11.7 million fiscal year to date, resulting in $423,000 under the target budget.

Revenue (Prior year comparison): Operating revenue received last year was $18.5 million as compared to the current year's $19.2 million, resulting in a $776,000 increase due to property tax, sales taxes, and service charges.

Expenditures (Prior year comparison): Operating expenditures last year were $10.9 million as compared to the current year's $11.7 million, resulting in a $835,000 increase due to costs associated with COVID-19 prevention, stimulus grant to reduce the impact of COVID-19, damage claims, wages, advertising and gateway planning.

Citizen budget requests

Longtime Stephenville resident and former city employee Bob Self addressed the council about the city's retirement fund.

Self stated that the city council in 2017 eliminated a COLA (cost of living allowance) to the fund that gave the retired employees a small amount of additional income each year.

Self said there are approximately 110 retired city employees who are currently drawing from that fund and asked that the City Council consider reinstating the cost of living raise in its next budget cycle.

Closing remarks

City Manager Allen Barnes noted that the city council committee meetings are scheduled for June 15 and the next regular session of the council is scheduled for July 6.

He also noted Moo-La Fest is under way and the city will hold its Fourth of July festivities on Saturday, July 3, this year due to the holiday falling on a Sunday. City offices will be closed Monday, July 5, in observance of the holiday.

"It's good to see fresh faces here (at the meeting)," said Mayor Pro Tem Brandon Huckabee before adjourning the meeting. "It's always good to be involved in your city government and in your county government. It's where you can make the biggest impact."

For more information on the council meeting and the agenda packet outlining items discussed and voted on, go to www.stephenvilletx.gov/citycouncil/page/regular-city-council-meeting