New taxicab ordinance is approved

The Sherman City Council adopted a new taxicab ordinance during its regular meeting Monday evening in the Council Chamber of City hall.

After no city residents elected to speak during the public hearing on the new ordinance, the Council unanimously approved the new taxicab rules. City Attorney Brandon Shelby recommended during the Dec. 3 Council meeting repealing or amending the previous ordinance, stating at that time it was “unenforceable.” The Council, however, took no action other than requesting Shelby draft a new, more streamlined ordinance. Council member Joe Smith on Monday praised the new ordinance, but asked Shelby about how it will be enforced.

“Specifically the insurance, that would be enforced the way we would enforce any insurance law,” the city attorney replied. “Enforcement on other aspects of the ordinance, it’s going to be up to people to report if they see a cab company that isn’t displaying the permit or a cab company that charges them more than is allowed to be charged.”

The new ordinance repeals the original taxicab ordinance adopted in 1976, as well as its amendment. A flat rate of $10 for service beginning and ending within the corporate limits of the city is included and passengers wishing to be picked up or dropped off outside of the city limits will have to negotiate a rate with the taxicab operator.

The ordinance requires any taxicab business looking to operate within Sherman city limits to be registered as a corporation in Texas and have insurance on each vehicle it plans to use. The application fee for taxicab permits is now $100 per vehicle to be paid annually and the ordinance states that a permit or a letter detailing the reasons for a denial shall be issued within 10 days of application.

“Very good, I think this will serve us well,” Mayor Cary Wacker said.

The Council also approved the latest bond issuance through the Greater Texoma Utility Authority to cover the cost of upcoming wastewater improvement projects the city has planned. The cost for those improvements — which include the Blalock sewer line replacement, Hwy. 289 Sewer Line A project, and biosolids facilities development — is expected to be approximately $3.72 million.

“These are projects that were identified in your 2013 Capital Improvement Program,” GTUA General Manager Jerry Chapman said. “Six bids were received. Those six bids represented 10 different companies.”

The bonds will carry a 2.834 percent interest rate over 20 years. As per the city’s contract for water supply and sewer service with GTUA, Sherman will pay debt service on the bonds, which are scheduled to close and fund on Jan. 24, to GTUA.

Sherman Economic Development Corporation President Scott Connell and Board Chairman Dean Gilbert Jr. presented the quarterly SEDCO progress report during the meeting.

“As you know, SEDCO is supported by a 3/8 cents sales tax,” Connell said. “We are seeing monthly receipts that are looking pretty good this year. With that, we’d like to thank the community at large for providing us with the resources to be able to market our community and attract some industry. The trust that they give us at SEDCO to manage that, we thank them for.”

Connell highlighted the corporation’s new board officers for the 2013 fiscal year and talked about the groundbreaking ceremony put on by Panda Power Funds to celebrate the construction of the company’s new power plant.

“We are seeing some ramp-up,” Connell said of the Panda construction. “This year will be a major ramp-up later in the year as the spring progresses. For construction and jobs, we encourage anyone who’s interested in employment to contact the Workforce Solutions Texoma.”

The SEDCO president also went over the corporation’s plans for the next quarter, including contact with commercial real estate groups in Dallas and Fort Worth.

During the Council comments section of the agenda, Council member Jason Sofey wished the public a happy new year and expressed his support for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team in Monday evening’s national championship game.

Prior to adjournment, the Council went into executive session to receive a briefing from Shelby on pending litigation. The Council then returned to an open meeting to officially adjourn without taking any further action.