Grapeland reverses course on debt consolidation |

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Shafer resigns as Grapeland PD leader

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – Have you ever put on your winter coat when it’s cold, put your hands in your pockets and find a few dollars from the previous winter? It may be overkill, but in a way, that’s what happened with the town of Grapeland.

At the February meeting of the Grapeland City Council, city leaders took the first steps toward consolidating the city’s debt, but at the March 8 council meeting, council members decided to backtrack.

Mayor Mitchell Woody explained, “We discussed this last month. We said, “Yeah, let’s do that,” but then new information came to light. »

“You’ll see there’s a 2018 revenue bond reserve account,” he continued, “which has — I mean — $374,000. That money’s been there since I became mayor. and I didn’t know what to do with it. I thought it was better not to touch it than to break the laws. Come and find out that this money is what Grapeland received to upgrade the sewage treatment plant .

Grapeland City Council

The mayor then asked the council if they thought it would be wise to pursue debt consolidation. Ben Rosenberg, the city’s financial adviser and managing director of US Capital Advisors, was present at the meeting, and Woody asked if he could explain further what the city’s options were.

“For the next three years, you have a payment of approximately $404,000. That’s the total of four loans. Then it drops to $282,000, then to $277,000, then to around $37,000 for the next five years. It’s your credit card payments if you will,” he said.

The financial adviser said earlier talks centered on restructuring the city’s debt that would extend payments over 10 years at an interest rate of 2.49%.

“When we talked about it before,” Woody said, “we thought we needed to get a sewage plant loan. That’s not the case anymore (because of the $374,000).

A lengthy discussion among board members followed where several factors were discussed including the possibility of future grants as well as the possibility of revisiting the issue of debt restructuring. Ultimately, the board decided not to move forward on the issue.

Ahead of the debt consolidation discussion, it was announced that Grapeland Police Chief Thomas Shafer had submitted a letter of resignation.

The police chief said he had spoken with the mayor earlier in the week about his resignation and said he “…had an opportunity to eventually move into another position (in the application I’ll find out later this week and I didn’t want to bring you back another day. It’s been an honor working for and with all of you. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I won’t be far, I’ll always be in Houston County.

The mayor expressed his gratitude to the chief and said, “I want to personally thank you for bringing the police department from where it was – administratively – to where we are now and from have aligned. You completely flipped it and I really appreciate it. We will miss you.”

After attending to several other routine business, the council retired to executive session shortly before 7 p.m. About 90 minutes later, the council emerged from behind closed doors and it was announced that Constable Richard Lewis had been appointed as the acting Chief Constable.

In other matters brought before the municipal council:

  • The minutes of the February 8 meeting were approved, along with the water adjustments and supplier payments.
  • City Supervisor Kevin Watts provided an update on the water department and reported that a new playground for Grapeland City Park has arrived. He said the plan was to install it next week.
  • Police Chief Thomas Shafer said his department responded to a total of 164 calls for service during the month of February. He said there were 104 traffic stops, with 65 warnings issued and 39 citations given. The police chief said there were two arrests and 242 security checks.
  • Fire Chief Tommy Smith reported there were 11 fire alarms in the month of February with a total of 22 since the start of the year. He added that there had been 51 EMS calls in the previous month.
  • The council approved the calling of the May 7 elections.
  • The names of Kody Stephens and Gabrielle Smith were removed from the Vera Bank loan while the names of Mayor Mitchell Woody, City Supervisor Kevin Watts and City Clerk Niky Nivens were added.
  • Council approved the use of Grapeland City Park on April 16 for an Easter egg hunt at no cost to event organizers.

Will Johnson can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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