Council cancels election, is still having election

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The filing deadline for a place on the Fort Stockton city council has come and gone with three candidates signing up for three different races. The lack of competition compelled the council to cancel the upcoming general election, but Mayor Chris Alexander reminded those in attendance that they will still have a special election for reauthorization of a local tax to help with street repairs.

So don't think that you are getting off easy come May 5.

For the general election, council members Mike Ureta and James Warnock filed the necessary paperwork to run again for their seats. They did not draw a challenger once the filing period ended. Meanwhile, four term Councilman Billy Jackson decided against running for another term, and Pamela Palileo filed for the spot. Since no one signed up to challenge her, she will be named the new councilwoman after May 5.

Seeing no reason to hold an election for unopposed candidates, council unanimously approved axing the city council election, and new and returning members will be sworn in during the regular May council meeting.

However, a special election will still be held by the city. Per a law passed in 2001 by the 77th Texas Legislature, cities may pay for street improvements that they do not have funds for by raising their local sales tax rate by one-eighth or one-fourth of a percent. Fort Stockton leaders have previously called for a one-fourth of one percent tax hike to provide revenue for that maintenance.

The tax was adopted May 4, 2002 and has been reauthorized by voters every four years since. If voters choose to defeat the measure, that will be less money for the city to work with. The sales tax may only be used to maintain and repair streets that exist on the date of the election and cannot be used for new streets, per state law.

In other business, council:

• Went into an hour-long executive session to hammer out several items, one of which concerning the details on a water lease at their Blue Ridge Farms property. Council voted to authorize the deal, as recommended by City Water Attorney Mark Harral. Terms of the contract were kept confidential.

• Created an amendment to the fund balance in the amount of $372,000 to be used in the operating fund for capital improvements for the public works department to provide for already designated equipment.

• Received the annual city audit from Smith and Rives, PC. The audit was rated good and showed a fund balance of over $4 million.

• Approved a one-time “longevity pay” increase for city staff of 2.5 percent.

• Began the process of a voluntary annexation of 25.73 acres as requested by Donohue Investments, LLC which shall be zoned “commercial” for the construction of the Fort Stockton Resort and RV Park.

• Approved the dates for the citywide cleanup which will be March 26-30 and April 2-13.

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