As of January 2015, the state of the City of Johnson City has never been better. City personnel have been busy repairing and replacing outdated equipment and cleaning up city facilities. A new accounting system is going online in February that will provide better accounting of city funds as well as streamline the yearly budget process. The codifying of our ordinances is still proceeding, albeit slowly, as we work with Franklin Publishing to make sure each ordinance is still relevant. Once codification is complete, the Code of Ordinances will be made available online.
A new Public Works Director (Mike Ulbig) has been hired and he has already made many small inexpensive changes to the wastewater treatment plant to make it more efficient. Further, the City now has a Red Flag Ordinance, a federal requirement, which institutes a policy preventing the accidental release of our customers' personal information as well as helps city personnel recognize fraudulent accounts or activity. Public Works is also hard at work insuring that grease traps are properly maintained so that our treatment plant will not continually be overburdened with grease flowing into the sewer plant.
We were awarded the low interest loan from the Texas Water Development Board. Tentatively, the City is considering using the funds for the following upgrades/improvements: cleaning and televising the sewer lines, repairing sanitary sewer lines (if needed), installing a step screen with an auger at the initial entry point of the treatment plant, upgrading the sludge beds from sand to tile beds for better efficiency, installing fine bubble diffusers to decrease the amount of ammonia produced during the treatment process, upgrading the RAS Pumping System, installing a grit removal system, upgrading the polymer mixing system, and upgrading to an automated DO system to control the blowers, reducing energy costs and extending the equipment life.
We will not use the funds to create a water reuse pond using the old LCRA pond. TCEQ requirements for water reuse are strict and at this time, we feel the money would be better spent updating our facility.
The City has also instituted a backflow prevention program that will keep potential pollutants from entering the City's drinking water supply. Implementation of this program will take approximately 18 months. Information about this program will be going out to residents and businesses with their water bills and may be accessed on the City's web site. A backflow prevention program is required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Federal Government.
Our application for a Small Community Parks Grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was not awarded in the first round. We feel confident; however, that we will receive the grant in the second round, which will be awarded in April. The grant monies will enable the City to build a skate park, a water collection tank (which will be attached to the pavilion), a small nature park and a competition level washer pitching area which we plan on using to host tournaments. To increase our chance of receiving the grant, we intend to adopt the pavilion as an outdoor classroom area. This would allow the funds we spend on the rainwater collection system to count as renovations, which should score an extra point. To make the pavilion into a classroom, we would need to add conservation signage, a projection/writing surface, and row seating. We'd also like to find someone to come forward and teach a class.
In conjunction with JCISD, the City will be refurbishing the tennis courts. Refurbishment will include resurfacing the tennis court (in maroon!) and replacing the nets.
Our maps (city limits, ETJ and the zoning map) have been digitized and are on the City website for viewing. The digitalization will make updating the maps simpler. The Planning and Zoning Commission is currently working on updating the zoning map.
The Youth Municipal Advisory Council (YMAC) has already met three times and will be attending a Youth Advisory Council Summit in Killeen at the end of January. They will be attending workshops and will be able to network with peers and discuss various actions that other groups have taken in their cities.
The Johnson City Police Department and Municipal court have entered into an agreement with Travis County Pct. 2 Constable Adan Ballesteros to help serve and collect outstanding warrants. The city has almost $30,000.00 in uncollected warrants. With the help of Pct. 2, the court has been able to collect on these outstanding fines and court costs that otherwise would have been hard to apprehend. With the help of Judge Madison, this program has been very successful. In its first three months of operation, the court has collected just under $5000.00 in outstanding warrants.
Code Enforcement Officer Wyman Kraft has been busy working with citizens to clean up unsafe areas and to discard junk vehicles. He is basically enforcing an ordinance the city has had for years regarding yards, trash, vehicles, etc. Further, our JCPD is working with Wags, Inc. to help with lost or injured dogs that find their way to the police station. JCPD has also hired new officers and works day and night to keep our town safe. Please thank your officers whenever you see them.
In February or March, whenever the weather becomes warmer, the City will begin repaving the City streets. The first 12 streets to be paved have been chosen and the job contracted out to Big Tex Paving. By the end of 2015, every street in Johnson City will have been repaved. During the repaving process, we will also be checking all water and sewer lines to make sure they are in good condition. We do not want to have to tear up a newly paved street to fix a broken pipe!
We are also meeting with the Texas Department of Transportation in January to discuss a TAP (Transportation Alternative Program) grant to add design features on Highway 290 to help slow traffic, improve the sidewalks and beautify that section of road that goes through the center of town. Also, we are planning on applying for another Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to repair or upgrade any water lines and fire hydrants. This project is still in the discussion phase.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact me or your city council person. We can all be reached via the city website.

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