City OKs change to animal ordinance
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Sept. 7, 2005 -- Alpacas in the city of Sulphur Springs can breathe a little easier now. 

Sulphur Springs City Council members, in a 5-1 majority vote, gave approval Tuesday night to changing the city’s animal control ordinance to allow the exotic animals.

Discussion on the topic took only minutes after a motion by Joe Crouch, seconded by Freddie Taylor, to approve the request on second and final reading.

After the vote, Pat Murray asked to address the council regarding his successful effort to keep two of the animals at his residence on Texas Street.

Murray said he wanted to give council members an explanation for the two citations he had received for having his alpacas in town before the ordinance was changed.

One of the animals, he said, became “very ill” over the weekend and required close attention.

�One of them stumbled out and fell out with heat stress and we almost lost him,� Murray explained. �I spent some time, with even mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to get the animal back to life, and now he is OK.�

With orders from a veterinarian, Murry said he felt his alpaca’s health was more important than waiting for council approval of the ordinance change.

After hearing discussion on bids for contracts for chemicals for the water and waste water treatment plants, the council tabled the item because the department supervisor was not at the meeting to respond to questions from the council about bidders and chemical quantities.

On a quick four to two vote, approval was given to Hopkins County Appraisal District’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Chief Appraiser Bill Sherman was prepared to explain the increase of more than $44,500 over last year’s budget of $514,450 for the district’s operations.

Sherman said the increase is attributed primarily to higher costs of health insurance for district employees. The replacement of the district’s computer system also played a significant role in the larger budget.

Members Joe Crouch and Chris Brown cast the dissenting votes on the appraisal district budget.

The council continued to move quickly through agenda items related to finalizing the city’s proposed $23,892,000 budget in which expenditures are expected to exceed revenues by more than $3 million dollars.

Salary increases given police and firefighters last year will be funded in the coming year with an increase in water and sewer rates which will increase by eight percent.

�This year, we are implementing [a rate increase] as far as taking your water utilities and sewer and sanitation and charging them 5 percent, but it is increasing the rate 5 percent because we are also doing it in lieu of property taxes,� said City Finance Director Peter Karstens. �That represents a transfer of about $400,000 from the enterprise fund to the general fund which is being used to fund the raises for public safety.�

As a result of discussions in a closed-door session to discuss real estate acquisitions, council members authorized the purchase of property on the north side of Main Street, below the Lake Coleman dam.

City Manager Marc Maxwell said the purchase will enable the city to clean up the area and, in the future, utilize the property to connect Coleman Park with Buford Park.

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