Nixon council deadlocks on capital expenditures


Everyone seemed to agree that the City of Nixon was in need of upgrades to its aging street repair fleet and fire department, yet when the time came to vote, council members were unable to arrive at an agreement on funding.

Mayor Gladyne Finch led her last full meeting and directed council into discussion regarding possible action on capital expenditures for the City of Nixon and the Nixon Volunteer Fire Department. Interim City Manager Harold Rice explained that the city was in urgent need of purchasing a dump truck due to engine problems with the current one. A replacement had been found, he said, and would look for ways to buy it should the city agree to the funding.

Also in Rice's request was a submersible camera for sewer line inspection — a gadget that would eliminate a lot of guesswork while digging for repairs, he explained — and resources to maintain the fire department and their older vehicles.

A motion was made by Councilman Justin La Fleur to provide funds for the fixes in the amount of $40,000 that would be pulled from the city's utility account. In discussions, Councilwoman Mary Ann Fatheree questioned if the city was getting the best deal, and whether other surrounding cities like Gonzales had been contacted to see if they had a dump truck to sell. Councilman Joseph Bjorgaard explained that the process was more complex than that, and bids were needed in order to purchase items from another government entity. And if a city were offering a dump truck for sale, Rice explained, it would likely be in as poor condition as the one they were looking to replace.

The replacement truck the city manager has in mind is from a supplier that does not need to go through a bid process.

When a vote was called by Finch, Bjorgaard abstained because of his position with the fire department. Fatheree also abstained. La Fleur and Councilwoman Particia Dingler voted in favor of the purchases. Since the motion needed three votes in order to pass, the motion failed. Councilman Doug Koenig was absent.

“If something happens [like a fire], the city can be held liable [for not funding the department],” Bjorgaard said after the vote.

Council also adopted a variance on setback rules for a trailer home owned by Rosalba Valerio. As city rules currently state, a home must have a 20 foot buffer around it when built or moved into position.

This rule, as explained by Bjorgaard, was to keep owners from “stacking homes on top of each other” on city lots. He was against a variance because it had the potential to open up other instances in the future where owners would seek similar modifications, setting a bad precedent.

The home in question would have to be positioned sideways to make it fit, Finch said. But by giving the homeowner a four foot exception, the house could be positioned properly like other homes in the area.

Council agreed to a 15-foot setback variance for the trailer and an understanding to come back with modifications to the ordinance at a future meeting.

As the meeting concluded, Finch thanked council for the past two years while she presided as mayor and looked ahead to welcoming her successor.

“I'm glad to pass the reins to new mayor Dorothy Riojas,” Finch said.