Paris City Hall

Paris City Hall

Paris City Council gave approval to a new Code of Ordinances, appointed members to a Charter Review Committee and established a new policy for approval of city contributions to nonprofit agencies at a Monday night meeting.

Councilors opted to let the mayor’s winter storm disaster proclamation expire, but not before interim Police Chief Randy Tuttle informed councilors of the importance for residents with storm damage to self-report to the Texas Division of Emergency Management at TDEM.texas.gov/warm

“Right now we are not under the federal individual assistance program, but that does not mean we won’t be if enough people report damages,” Tuttle said, explaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief program now extends to 77 Texas counties. “If enough people apply to meet the standard, then Lamar County will be added to the program.”

Councilors expressed appreciation to city staff about their performance during the weather event.

“I want to say a special thank you to our police chief, fire chief and all our city staff and to our fearless leader (City Manager) Grayson Path,” Councilor Clayton Pilgrim said about efforts during the storm. “Places like Houston and Austin, they don’t have the leadership we do here.”

City Clerk Janice Ellis announced the completion of a new Code of Ordinances after city staff worked with a code consultant since November. The code soon will be available online through the city clerk’s office with hard copies available both in the clerk’s office and at Paris Public Library, 326 S. Main St.

“Our ordinances had not been recodified since 1998,” Ellis said. “We did a lot of research, had a lot of meetings and found many mistakes. It was a thorough undertaking, and a much needed project. I think you will be happy with it because it is much more user friendly.”

Councilors named 10 people to an 11-member Charter Review Committee with one spot left for Councilor Gary Savage to appoint as he was absent from the Monday meeting. The committee is expected to begin meeting sometime this summer, hopefully when Covid-19 is of less concern. Work is expected to be finished in time for a May 2022 municipal election if committee action and council approval warrants a public election on proposed amendments, Ellis said.

Named to the committee are Aaron Jenkings, nominated by Renae Stone, Derrek Hughes, nominated by Reginald Hughes, Steve Clifford, self-nominated by the mayor who will be out of office by the time the committee meets, Reeves Hayter by Paula Portugal, Matthew Coyle by Linda Knox and Alex Putnam by Clayton Pilgrim. Four additional appointees, drawn from additional names submitted by councilors, include Joan Mathis, Keith Flowers, Edwin Pickle and Connie Dodd.

Path recommended, and councilors approved, a new policy for city contributions to nonprofit organizations that provide a public service for residents. The detailed policy provides for a lengthy application process to be reviewed and approved by council members. The policy includes a $100,000 total cap for nonprofit contributions with another $5,000 provided in case it’s needed to fulfill a final request.

“Sometimes you may get down to $95,000, and the last applicant requests $8,000,” Path said. “So I gave you $5,000 to give you some wiggle room.”

Councilors praised Path for his efforts in devising a plan that includes a scorecard for councilors to use in ranking in what order nonprofits will be discussed and the amount of funding awarded to each until the $100,000 cap is reached.

“I like this a lot, and appreciate the work you did on this,” Clifford said. “It is well thought out and will have the effect of giving the council the opportunity to discuss and rank organizations rather than the city manager making all the decisions and presenting it to the group. I really like the part where you want a two-page summary from each organization that applies.”

City Attorney Stephanie Harris presented, and council approved, a resolution of intent to establish a Texas Property Assessed Clean Energy Program, initially to benefit Paris Lakes in conservation efforts and to establish a city-wide program. Monday’s resolutions call for a March public hearing before the council can give final approval to the programs.

“This would add another tool in Paris Economic Development Corp. efforts to attract new industry,” Harris said of the city-wide resolution.

In other action, the council approved a zoning change request from light industrial to one-family dwelling in the 800 block of Jackson Street, and tabled a request from Samantha Hughes to waiver rent at the Event Center on Fitzhugh Avenue.

Councilors took no action after an executive session during which the council discussed a possible incentive offer for the First National Bank building and other associated properties owned by developer David Alarid.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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