The Corsicana City Council heard from several citizens concerning the issue of vaccines for COVID-19 and the potential of mandates. Many of those who spoke during the public comment portion of the regular Sept. 13 meeting asked the council to protect their rights and oppose any such mandates.
Last week, President Joe Biden required that employers with more than 100 workers be vaccinated or test weekly for the virus, affecting about 80 million Americans. The roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.
In response, Pct. 3 Councilman Chris Woolsey denounced the requirements on social media and vowed to protect citizens against unlawful mandates, saying that no Corsicana tax dollars should go toward enforcement of the mandates and that everyone should enjoy the basic right of “security in our own person.”
The council also discussed the proposed 2022 fiscal year budget. Revenues expressed in the budget total $63,040,240, with total expenditures of $61,544,896. That number does not include capital improvement and construction fund expenditures, but does reflect a balanced General Fund. The sanitation fund, as well as all of the individual special revenue and utility funds are balanced.
The EMS fund is not balanced, according to City Manager, Connie Standridge.
Standridge highlighted an increase of public safety funding in excess of $2 million, which includes funding for an increase in Fire Department staffing and $5,000 raise for public safety employees. Also included are funds enabling a 3% raise for city employees. The council will take a final vote on the 2022 fiscal year budget Sept. 27, the postponement of the vote was required after Monday’s public hearing.
The council approved a one-year option with Change Healthcare for EMS billing and collection services. The issue was discussed during a work session held prior to Monday’s council meeting.
The council also received an update regarding the 2020 census from Mike Morrison, a former Waco Mayor, and current Baylor law professor. Morrison discussed the need for a slight adjustment to the city’s precinct boundaries as a result of the city’s population increase to 25,109.
Over the last decade, Corsicana’s population has grown in Pct. 3 and 4 while the tallied population has decreased in the remaining two precincts. The shift in population is over the 10% allowable deviation in population between the precincts. The shift triggered the need for redistricting.
Corsicana’s population has followed a trend across the board, showing growth in the Hispanic population. It is believed that Corsicana was undercounted in the 2020 census as it has been in past years.
Considerations for redistricting include population and ensuring equal protection for all voters which is preserved because of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Morrison said he believes the new precinct boundaries could be achieved by slight adjustments to the current precinct lines.
Morrison was asked to return to a future council meeting with a map which meets all criteria and shows the proposed boundaries.
Bids for water, waste water and chemicals for the upcoming fiscal year, were approved. The city plans to spend approximately $833,667, which has been appropriated in the proposed 2022 budget.
A resolution was approved authorizing the city to submit an application for a grant administered by the Department of Commerce through the Economic Development Administration for approximately $3 million. The city will be responsible for a 20% match of any funds that are received. If awarded, the grant would be used to build interior roads in the I-45 Industrial Business Park.
The council also approved an application for a five-year tax freeze for the property located at 119 N. Beaton. The property is eligible for the tax freeze because it is located within the Corsicana Downtown Revitalization District and is undergoing a substantial renovation. During the length of the tax freeze, the increased value of structural alterations and or new construction will not be added to the tax rolls. The property must remain on the tax roll at 100% of it’s value for 10 years following the five-year freeze, in order to be eligible for another freeze in the future.
The council approved the closure of a 20-foot abandoned alley, located between North Second Street and North First Street. Action by the council was requested by the Boys and Girls Club.
The council also approved health benefits coverage for Pre-65 Retirees through the Texas Municipal League Health Employee Benefits Pool. This action was required by the TML once Corsicana reached the population threshold of 25,000.
The council also approved the consent agenda before adjourning into Executive Session, where no action was taken.
The city council meets regularly on the second and fourth Monday of each month at the City Government Center in the Council Chambers of the Government Center at 200 N. 12th St.