City of Humble rebounds
- Written by Kathy Parks
At Humble City Hall, staff members took Hurricane Ike in stride. As the fierce storm approached the coast, many people left their jobs to secure their homes and families, but city council met as scheduled. Likewise, after the storm, they returned quickly to their stations for the Sept. 25 Council meeting and business as usual. “My compliments to CenterPoint Energy,” said Darrell Boeske, city manager, “They did a fantastic job of getting City services back up and running. They had some tough decisions to make, but public services are key to this area.” He said although he understood every individual wanted their power back, he also understood the process of doing what was in the interest of most of the people first. He said the largest number of people benefit from restoring power that gets them gas, food, water, sewer and access to cash in banks. “Infrastructure takes a while to rebuild,” said Boeske. “You can’t rebuild in a week.” Boeske complimented Clint Johnson, Humble’s emergency management coordinator, saying he did a fine job. Boeske said Johnson ran a command center for 20 hours. He compared Humble’s quick turn around to other communities that still haven’t taken down their emergency management centers, even though it’s two weeks after the storm. “Fifty percent of our power was back within a couple of days,” Boeske said. “That’s a big thing for our economy.” He also complimented the fire and police departments, saying they made sure people were orderly. He took pride in the fact the City had no loss of water, water pressure and no overflow. “That speaks volumes for our public works department,” he said. He said the area had a lot of trees down like all the other communities and there was still work to be done, at Schott’s Park for example, but Hirsh Memorial Park and Timberwood Park had already been cleaned. Boeske thanked Humble Civic Center director Johnnie Ray Scroggins for his work at the Civic Center’s POD station. “Well, I want to go on record saying Darrell Boeske rocks,” said Scroggins. With all the contributions to recovery noted, the meeting returned to business. City Council members passed an ordinance setting aside funds from the current budget to be spent when equipment and improvements were performed in the 2008-09 fiscal year. Boeske also asked council members to consider reserve fund expenses caused by Hurricane Ike which will impact the budget. “There are things we didn’t budget for that we have to cover,” said Boeske. He said those things included cleaning up debris, gas for generators, repairs to generators and buildings as well as overtime for police, fire and city workers. Boeske said FEMA should reimburse 100 percent of those expenses, but the City must pay for them in advance and file for reimbursement down the road. Prior to the hurricane, council members agreed to ratify the property tax rate and at this meeting, they voted to adopt the rate. The rate remains at 20 cents per $100 valuation, which Boeske said was one of the lowest around. He said the City is able to keep it low because they enjoy a strong sales tax base. He said if the amount of property taxes collected go up even a dollar per year, he must let the council and citizens know. Even with no increase, the amount collected continues to increase because property values continue to rise. With the increase, the state also requires cities to hold two public hearings so citizens can voice their opinions on the matter. Those public hearings on ad valorem tax rates are scheduled for 6 p.m on Oct. 9 and 14. Humble City Council meetings are open to the public. They are held at City Hall on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.