John Hancock Jr.

District 4 City Councilman John Hancock Jr talks blight during a recent city council meeting. 

 

Whether it’s labeled a blight fight or beautification effort hasn’t been determined yet, but city staff says its now got a plan.

That’s what District 4 City Councilman John Hancock Jr. has been calling for since he joined forces with former Mayor Randy Collins in the effort to revitalize areas in 2018.

“The action plan presented to council will continue and enhance the efforts of staff in addressing blight. Regular updates will be provided to the council and available to the public on the city’s website,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said.

No advance information was related on specific plans.

Hancock told the newspaper Friday he hasn’t seen any advance information on planning. “I guess I’ll wait and learn something when I get there,” he said, adding he wasn’t overly optimistic. “I’m hoping we’ve had a turnaround ... I sure have a lot of people tell me we need to do something."

Previously, staff started efforts targeting junk vehicles and the Jackson Street corridor, both of which met with mixed results.

Weedy lot regulations are routinely enforced.

The blight workshop will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday with the regular session to follow at 6:30 p.m. The El Campo City Council meets in chambers, 315 E. Jackson. The meeting is open to the public with time specifically designated for citizen comments.

Other items before Council include:

Council Charter Amendment Debate

The last time El Campo City Council members talked about charter amendments discussions turned heated and were brought to a halt with a banging gavel.

Monday, the subject is back on the agenda with two possible issues to consider: A residency requirement for the city’s highest officials and the lingering debate on how a mayor should be elected.

“(The) Mayor (Chris Barbee) has requested consideration to amend the charter on city manager and judge residency requirement. Currently the charter states (those office holders ) reside in the city or the ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction – the one-mile radius around municipal boundaries), he wants the requirement to be inside the city limits,” Sladek said.

Sladek and Municipal Judge Michelle Roy both live in the city limits, but some of the previous office holders did not.

Councilwoman Gloria Harris requested an amendment that, if approved, would make the mayor a directly-elected post. Currently, El Campo’s mayor is the top vote-getter among at-large council representative hopefuls with the mayor pro tem the second place finisher.

Barbee is the first mayor selected under this method which approved in November 2020 as part of the delayed council election.

Harris further suggested that the mayor pro tem be selected by council members, the method previously used.

“it could be a possible amendment,” Sladek said.

Council has the power, by consensus vote, to place a proposed charter amendment before voters. Other amendments are created based the findings of the seven-person Charter Review Commission.

The commission’s sole amendment for the upcoming election cycle is a proposition that would require public hearings before any proposed utility fee increases are approved.

Staffing Changes

The city’s new emergency management coordinator will be formally introduced to council although he’s certainly a familiar face. Paramedic and Fire Chief Jimmy George Jr. will be taking the job, after more than three decades with El Campo EMS. George replaces Lori Hollingsworth who was the city’s first full-time emergency management director.

The emergency management department falls under the supervision on EMS Director Garret Bubela.

Police officers and a permitting clerk will also be named.

The agenda calls for the 2021 Employee of the Year to be named.

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