The Dayton City Council is considering a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and merit raises for employees in the City’s proposed $20.5 million budget for the 2020-2021 year. The details of the budget were discussed in a workshop that preceded Council’s July 20 meeting.
The COLA, merit raises and benefits package for employees will help the City of Dayton compete with the neighboring cities of Baytown, Humble and Mont Belvieu, said City Manager Theo Melancon.
The proposed budget also includes funding for road and drainage repairs, water and sewer repairs, and expanding capabilities at the Gulf-Inland Industrial Park on SH 146 just south of town and the Rail Logix industrial development on SH 146 at the Chambers County line.
“Our main focal point is going to be on the main thoroughfares. I would also say that a lot of our focus from 2020 to 2022 will be working with the Houston-Galveston Area Council on transportation projects around town, including the extension of Lovers Lane and the rail realignment, which we are working on with the county,” Melancon said. “We are being fiscally responsible so we can be an active partner in those projects.”
Melancon, in his fourth year as city manager, says this year’s proposed budget is the “proudest budget” he has presented to city council as it focuses on the City’s ability to provide stability in employment, good benefits for employees, and repairs and improvements to benefit all residents in Dayton.
“Considering all the challenges we are facing – with the pandemic, lockdowns and economic concerns – the fact that we are able to do this budget right now is amazing to me, and on top of that, we are doing the $13.7 million fiber project to bring high-speed Internet to at least 90 percent of the residents and businesses in Dayton,” he said. “The City’s trajectory is shooting way high right now and this council has been very instrumental in it.”
The “Higher Ground” mural that was a project of the Dayton Enhancement Committee and created by Dayton artist Mary Fielder Taylor was discussed by Council. The mural, painted onto a water tank on E. Clayton Street, was finished last week.
Council also approved an interlocal agreement with the county and Dayton ISD for the demolition of a property located at 303 Hill Street. Several years of taxes are owed on the property, which includes a dilapidated house and attached garage. The City has agreed to demolish the property and the proceeds of the demolition will be paid back when the property is sold. The county, school district and city will split the proceeds above the cost of demolition.
With flooding issues common in some areas of Dayton, Council agreed to hire Grant Works to help in applying for and administrating grant proceeds that will allow the City to develop projects that will negate this issues. Melancon said two particular areas of concern are properties along FM 1960 and the Sunset Heights community.
“We are trying to work with state and federal partners to keep flooding from those neighborhoods,” he said.
The Council also approved the purchase of new furniture for the council chambers at the Dayton Community Center. In the coming months, Council will begin holding meetings in rooms 301 and 302. The furniture is being built at a reduced rate by inmates at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
“A lot of courtrooms in Texas have been done by TDCJ, so I think they will do great work for us, too. The rooms are larger than our current council chamber – well over 1,000 square feet, so there will be more seating for the public,” Melancon said.
Starting Oct. 1, residents in Dayton should look for some changes related to the rates for garbage collection and water and sewer service. The city’s new contract with Frontier will increase garbage collection rates by $1.41 per month. The water and sewer bills should reflect a 1 percent increase.
Council approved the Nov. 3 city election that will coincide with the general election. In normal, non-pandemic years, the city’s elections are held in May. However, they were bumped back to November this year. There are two positions up in the election – Position 1 and 3. Position 1 is currently held by Councilman Wendell Null. He is being challenged for this position by John McDaniel. Position 3 is currently held by Councilman Alvin Burress, who is being challenged by former police chief John Headrick.
The council also discussed plans for a network operations center that will be built within the next 12 months on a property next to the police department on SH 321 (Cleveland Street). The center will house the main hub for the fiber optics system that is being installed throughout the city and will serve as a headquarters for the City’s technology department.