Council talks HOT funds at workshop

Upgrade in city’s water model could help economic development

Money and water were hot topics at a Rockdale city council workshop held Jan. 21 at city hall. C ouncil m embers g ot t o hear information about how the hotel-motel occupancy tax funds the city receives could be disbursed and who would go about disbursing those funds.

Currently, the city has a tourism committee that meets and reviews applications for the funds and then takes their recommendations to the council for approval.

Before the tourism committee, the Rockdale Chamber of Commerce used to disburse the funds, but elected to discontinue that practice over a year ago.

City manager Kelvin Knauf said that during the workshop council members came up with three options—keep things the same, let the Chamber disburse the funds again or hire a tourism/ recreation director position to direct the funds.

Incoming Chamber chair Janice King said that the group’s board of directors have been in discussion about taking the job back, but is going to leave it up to its membership.

The Chamber’s annual membership meeting is set for noon Thursday at the New Salem Clubhouse at Fair Park and a vote will be cast on whether the membership wants the Chamber to put a proposal together for the city council about disbursing the funds.

“We will present the pros and cons, how we (the Chamber) can help the city, how we’d administer the funds and what it will mean to the Chamber,” King said of the presentation to the Chamber membership.

The tourism committee and Rockdale Municipal Development District are supporting the idea of hiring a tourism/recreation director.

MDD director Kara Clore said that during the MDD board meeting on Thursday, a committee of herself, MDD board president Gary Griesbach, MDD board vice president Collier Perry, tourism committee board chair Joan Ratliff and tourism committee board vice chair Michelle Morgan were chosen to put together a proposal to present to the city council in support of the creation of the position.

“We were chosen to collaborate on a proposal for the city council,” Clore said.

That committee’s discussion will also included how much money the MDD would be willing to put towards that position and its salary.

Ultimately, the choice of how the funds are distributed will be decided by the city council.

WATER MODEL—Knauf said the council also talked about the need to upgrade the city’s water model. The current computer model of Rockdale’s water system was installed in 2008.

“More things have come online since then, like Days Inn, Hunters Chase apartments and the new northwest water tower will be on there soon,” Knauf said. “The upgrade will also show us how many more we can hook up before we need to expand the water plant.”

He also said that knowing that information would also help in future economic development of the town.

“ The old system can’t tell us those things and for economic development purposes we need to know,” he added. “It will also help us to prioritize what (water) lines need to be replaced.”

OTHER ITEMS—Other things discussed included revamping the oil/gas drilling ordinance currently in place within the city.

“We are getting more interests in that area,” Knauf said.

Council members also discussed the dibilitated Cameo Insurance Building, located in the downtown area. Talks included what the council would do if someone new bought the building from the current owner.

Knauf could not say if an official offer had been made to the owner for the purchase of the falling down building.

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