Council tables reading of redistricting map
What was to have been the first reading to consider the ordinance dealing with the redistricting of the new single member districts was tabled on the recommendation of Alan Bojorquez, the consultant to the city on the project.
Bojorquez informed the city that he has received new input relative to the project and that he is in the process of drawing another map for consideration. His office contacted members of the city council and the Charter Change Committee with the recommendation to table the first reading of the ordinance.
Mayor Brown Claybar stated that he feels that the project will remain on schedule and the new map will be ready in time for the citizens to consider the maps and have the election as planned.
“We have done what our citizens have asked us to do, that is to draw single member districts,” Claybar said. “Mr. Bojorquez is still willing to receive input; the address is available on the city’s website.”
The request was made to have the City Secretary schedule the meeting when the new map is ready for the 5:30 p.m. time slot to give working citizens ample opportunity to attend the meeting and view the recommended map.
Brian McRae, of Hart Intercivic, gave a presentation of electronic voting machines for the council to consider. The system consists of three separate pieces of equipment, an optical ballot scanner, a judges voting controller and an electronic voting machine.
The paper ballots would be scanned and the information downloaded to a card that would also receive the information entered on the voting machine. The machine is handicap accessible, being located on a stand that is wheelchair height.
McRae emphasized that the tabulation of the votes has several fail safe capabilities and that the system is being used by several large counties in Texas.
Councilman Cullen Smith asked how the system would alleviate the problem of people being denied access to vote. The problem with past elections had been confusion over where some persons should have voted and possibly people voting in the wrong precinct.
McRae’s response was that the problem of access to voters is a procedural problem and would not be addressed by this system. This system deals with tabulation of votes only. There is no voter verification built into this system.
Council member Theresa Beauchamp expressed concern over the nearly $130,000 cost of the system not being a budgeted item. In addition to the cost for the equipment and installation of the system there would be a $5,000 cost for each election and approximately a $3,000 annual cost.
Councilman Bill Mello asked a question about the cost of a runoff election. McRae responded that there is a $5,000 cost for each election.
“The regular election would cost $5,000 and the runoff election would cost another $5,000”, McRae said.
After discussion of the need for the system and the cost of the system, Councilman Jeff Holland stated that the system needs to be addressed at budget time and made a motion to decline the proposal. The motion passed with one declining vote by Councilmember Annette Pernell.
The council approved the purchase of a 2011 Ford F-750 dump truck from David Self Ford Lincoln-Mercury for the purchase price of $57,890. There were four requests for bid on the truck and David Self was the only bidder.
“I like the fact that we are keeping our money in Orange,” Beauchamp said.
Proposals to add a new chiller to the HVAC system at the Police and Court Facility and upgrade the lighting in service areas of the Public Library were approved as was the annual agreement with the H. J. Lutcher and Nelda Stark Foundation for the use of Stark Park for the “Christmas in the Park” activities.
Fire Chief asked the council to approve a resolution accepting the use by permanent loan interior architectural elements and millwork to be placed in the conference room of the new fire station.
The items were from the Lutcher home located on Water Street. The home was torn down in 1940 and the items have been in storage since that time. The value of the items is placed at $12,500. The resolution was approved.
Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Ziller presented a proposal that the city enter into an Interlocal Agreement with the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission for a one year subscription to an emergency notification system known as Intrado Data and Black Board Connect messaging service.
Ziller explained that this service has privacy guarantees built into it when it becomes necessary to call private telephone numbers. He also gave information that the system is more efficient and cost effective than the current system. The current system has a cost per call built in; the new system would only cost the city $33 per year.
The major costs relative to the system are paid from the new Port Security Grant allotment for Orange.