Those driving a vehicle without insurance may have their vehicle towed away and impounded in the city of West Orange.

The West Orange City Council passed an ordinance at their regular meeting Monday night authorizing the towing of vehicles by the police department and providing a penalty for violation. The ordinance will start being enforced immediately.

The ordinance reads it’s an offense for a person to operate a motor vehicle without financial responsibility established for the vehicle. Furthermore, a police officer is authorized to order the towing an impounding of a vehicle not insured or otherwise covered for financial responsibility in accordance with state law along with other offenses.

“The streets, alleys, or other public places of the city are not intended for storage of vehicles; therefore, any vehicle standing, parked or remaining unattended within the same two blocs of any public street, alley, sidewalk, parkway or upon any property of the city for 48 hours or more continuous hours, even though the vehicle is moved from one place to another within such blocks or city property, is hereby declared to be illegally parked,” it read. “If the vehicle remains in the same two blocks of any public street, alley, sidewalk, parkway or upon any property of the for an additional 48 continuous hours, it is herby declared to be a nuisance per se, and any such vehicle when so found ashlar be removed summarily by an police office of the city to any storage area designated or maintained by the poise department and shall be kept there until redeemed or deposed of as provided.”

The police chief, by policy, may assess a fee for verification of financial responsibility to the owner of stored vehicle prior to the stored vehicle being released.

Any person who violated this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be fined an amount allowed by state law.

Alderman Mike Shugart asked why the change was needed in bringing forth this ordinance. Mike Stelly, chief of police and city manager, said there was no ordinance for this in the city.

In other Council business, a proposed budget and ad valorem tax rate were passed. A public hearing is scheduled at 5 p.m. on August 27 on the proposed annual budget at city hall, 2700 Western Ave. and a public hearing on the proposed tax rate at 5 p.m. on August 30 at city hall. The proposed annual budget and tax rate are to be adopted at 5 p.m. on September 10 at the next regular City Council meeting.

The 2018-2019 budget will consist of:

• Total revenue of $3,043,690

• Estimated beginning fund balance of $671,425

• Estimated funds available of $3,715,115

• Total operating expenses of $3,427,615

• Total capital outlay and improvements $287,500

• A total amount of $3,715,115

Mayor Roy McDonald said it was “a very good budget” for the year and very similar to budgets done in the past. The Council thanked staff for their hard work on the budget and tax rate.

He said there will be a slight increase in the tax rate for 2019. This year’s effective tax rate will be $.47000 per $100 valuation. Last year’s effective tax rate was $.45676 per $100 valuation. Stelly gave an example of a $10.40 yearly  increase on a $65,000 house.

McDonald said property appraisals are down since Tropical Storm Harvey, particularly for West Orange.

“Property values have changed considerably,” he said. “There’s some positive things. Health insurance went down (due to vacant positions in the city). We will have a very small tax increase and we’ll have a two percent wage increase for all employees.”

Deep South Containers, of Beaumont, was awarded the contract for commercial roll-off containers waste collection in the city.

The city will enter into an interlocal agreement with the Orange County Water Control and Improvement District #2 for a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds through the Texas Department of Emergency Management and/or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Stelly said the grant could be used for raising the controls at the sewer plant that is prone to go underwater during flooding.

Also passed was a $7 million engineering services and a $3 million administration services for an infrastructure grant project. Schaumburg & Polk, Inc. was the low bidder for the engineering side while Traylor and Associates, Inc. will be the administrator. This is a Tropical Storm Harvey grant for sewer service line replacement throughout the city.

Lastly, Alderman Randy Branch was appointed to the Orange County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors and Sheila Dunlap was awarded a $1 per hour increase in wage. McDonald said Dunlap is a part-time employee who serves as assistant court clear, assistant to the city secretary and fills in for when staff either calls in ill or are out to lunch.