At its regular on Wednesday, July31 Houston City Council took several actions aimed at improving economic development and city services. The printed agenda was adjusted to facilitate brief statements of a new appointee and others.
First, the Mayor and Council appointed Pam Gardner, former President of the Houston Astros, to position three on the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority Board of Directors. Ms. Gardner is well known to Houstonians and several members of City Council for successful management of the Astros and for her strong leadership qualities. (Item 2)
The Council also enacted a Naming Rights agreement in connection with a series of improvements of Eleanor Tinsley Park, including landscaping adjustments to the amphitheater to facilitate large scale events with temporary stages and kiosks. John Nau, explained that the Nau Family Pavilion that will include exhibits on Texas History particularly amenable for younger children (4th through 7th grade). The Council noted that it is rare for the City to name a public place after a living person, but they felt that Mr. Nau’s contributions merited an exception.(Item 12)
Next came the monthly financial and operations reports from Comptroller Green and Finance Director Dowe. They noted that while in some categories, revenues were lower than expected, there were also cost savings and higher than expected tax revenues. Council Member Burks asked more pointedly about the lower-than-expected Ambulance fee collections. Recent difficulties with collections contractor ACS (aka Xerox State and Local Solutions) have resulted in a suspension of payment as of the end of May, and a lawsuit alleging fraud, conversion, and several other legal theories filed last Friday, July 26. Mr. Dowe stated that in each monthly report, issues with collections from the service were mentioned.
There was no mention of the lawsuit. An ordinance was on the docket that would name Digitech Computer as an alternative billing collector, but the item was tagged,
The Mayor then opened a public hearing on the creation of TIRZ 25 in the Hiram Clarke/Fort Bend area. Mr. Christopher Harley spoke on behalf of Fort Bend County Commissioner Grady Prestage, and assured that Fort Bend County has an interest in joining the TIRZ. In addition, Mr. Theodore Andrews, Ms. Vivian Harris, and Ms. Linda Scurlock, all long time residents of the Hiram Clarke area community and active in civic associations, spoke in support of the TIRZ. The creation TIRZ 25 has been a vision of Council Member Larry Green for the past 2 years. The current proposal culminates a meticulous planning process, and the measure is expected to pass unanimously when it is brought before council. Mayor Parker indicated that the City was still awaiting confirmation on participation by Fort Bend County.