By David Kapitan, Staff Writer
The Wills Point City Council met on Tuesday night, discussing a wide array of topics, including Centerpoint Energy’s statement of intent to increase rates in the city and a revision to the city’s personnel policy dealing with the appeals process for written reprimands.
Council members were made aware that Centerpoint Energy had issued a “statement of intent to increase rates in the city of Wills Point for its residential service, general service-small and general service-large volume customers.”
Centerpoint Energy, which has not had a rate increase in six years, advised city leaders that they could choose from one of three courses of action: take no action, suspend the matter, or deny the matter outright.
Taking no action would be considered acceptance of Centerpoint’s plan, automatically triggering a rate increase effective on August 6. Council members also had the option of suspending any action, giving residences a three-month reprieve on increased rates, or denying the motion, which the city would then have to litigate.
After a brief discussion, board members unanimously moved to suspend Centerpoint’s plan. According to information discussed at the meeting, the suspension leaves open the possibility of another city in Centerpoint’s proposed rate increase area to challenge the hike. If another city succeeds in its challenge, Centerpoint’s proposed rate increase will not go into effect.
Council members also spent significant time at Tuesday’s meeting discussing the city’s written reprimand policy. The main area of concern for council members surrounded on the ability of city employees to appeal reprimands to department heads or the city manager.
Under the current system, department heads could not appeal written reprimands. Council member Mike Jones shared his belief that department heads should be given the right of appeal, the same opportunity as other city employees.
After discussions that included the possible creation of a panel to conduct the appeals process for written reprimands or hiring of a mediator, council members opted to add an amendment to add the mayor or mayor pro-tem to conduct the appeals process for department heads.
Tuesday’s meeting also included several housekeeping measures, with council members unanimously approving an ordinance amendment that defines pretreatment requirements for industrial users and an amendment to the job description related to the position of police officer.
The pretreatment requirement for new industrial users had been part of the permitting process in the city, but was never explicitly outlined in the city’s ordinances. The actions define the requirements for new industrial users. The amendment to the police officer job description was done, according to city officials, to maintain federal compliance standards.
In other business:
-Leola Brumley raised concerns about the conduct and professionalism of Wills Point police officers, citing an incident that happened at a Juneteenth celebration.
-The Wills Point Fire Department is expected to contact the Dallas Fire Department about loaning a fire engine while the city’s current engine is taken in for routine pump and engine maintenance.
-Director of Public Works Scott Drake advised that the recently enacted water restrictions were no longer necessary after rain showers swept through the area on Monday.
-The council met in executive session to “hear status update from city attorney concerning a pending litigation matter – related to Billy Cunningham vs. city of Wills Point.”