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[November 28, 2012]
Kilgore council adopts ordinance banning door-to-door salespeople
Nov 28, 2012 (Kilgore News Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- It required some last-minute tweaks from the city's legal counsel, but the City of Kilgore's ban on door-to-door solicitation, and other activities, is now in the code.
The ordinance curtails many, but not all, doorbell-ringers and also blocks handbills, temporary vendors and transient merchants while allowing ongoing school, church and charity efforts by children and others.
"This came about first as a question we asked in the household survey -- 86 percent of citizens were in favor of banning outright door-to-door solicitation," city manager Scott Sellers reminded council members Monday night. "In our development of this ordinance, we have been very responsive to the feedback from the business community as well, and I believe this ordinance is a good middle ground, a good compromise and should cover everything as far as door-to-door solicitation is concerned." During their Monday meeting -- rescheduled from Tuesday to avoid a conflict with last night's Christmas parade -- council members also approved a final change order and report on the Rabbit Creek Sewer Main Project and OK'd an additional $50,000 for the Meadowbrook Municipal Country Club.
According to Kilgore City Attorney Rob Schleier, late amendments to the door-todoor sales ban included several specific exceptions for temporary vendors -- selling agricultural products is still permitted, according to state statutes, along with several other "patches." A so-called 'Walmart exception' maintains the right of businesses' right to hold outdoor sales on their private property. However, vendors must own the property -- under the ordinance, convenience stores, for example, cannot allow temporary, non-owner vendors to set up their wares in a parking lot.
Likewise, the 'downtown merchants exemption,' permits retailers to hold sidewalk sales on public walkways -- when permitted by the city -- and a 'special occasion exemption' permits temporary sales at outdoor festivals permitted by the city.
"We are also working on another ordinance, that will probably come later, which is a private use of public space" guideline, Sellers said.
Except for minors and charities, the ban restricts most door-to-door salespeople, still allowing business representatives to make nonsales introductions.
Violations of the ordinance carry a misdemeanor charge, to be monitored by police and code enforcement officers.
"We currently enforce the one that we have. This one will add some additional" boundaries, Kilgore Police Chief Todd Hunter said.
While she supports sales by children, i.e. for school or Girl Scouts, council member Sherry Bustin echoed her original concerns that parents need to take heed of the city's existing guidelines and accompany the minors on their routes.
"It seems pretty common that they're doing this without an adult with them. It's in there, but we need to enforce that." Kilgore Water Superintendent David Hackley brought the final report on the Rabbit Creek project along with a second, and final, $66,203.83 change order.
"The project is done. It's all in the ground," he said.
Crews from Freese & Nichols also finished ahead of schedule -- construction began in October 2011, aiming for final substantial completion 420 days later. That came more than a month in advance, Hackley said, allowing for an initial walk-through in mid-October, a handful of corrections and a final review earlier this month.
"Totally they laid a little over 18,000 feet of sewer line, 42 manholes" and finished 3.8 percent more than the original contract amount, about $100,000 in excess at $2,700,817. "That's very good. Most of the contracts you're going to see are going to be anywhere from five to 10 percent or more.
"These folks did a good job. That line is going to be there for a very long time." Up and flowing, it's still early to determine how much of a positive impact the project is having, Hackley said, but inflow and infiltration has already been reduced, as have run times at the Rabbit Creek lift station.
"Our sewer study that we're going to do will tell us more about that, as will time," he explained.
"I'd like to see a report in six months with comparisons from prior years," Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon said. "See what kind of value we got for it." According to public works director Seth Sorensen, the upcoming sewer model will be advertised for bids in late- January or early-February.
After approving $86,400 for a stop-gap budget for the country club during their previous meeting, council members were somewhat reluctant to invest an additional $30,000 in a maintenance fund and $20,785 in a pointof sale system Monday.
Before the new managers arrived, "How have they been operating without the point of sale system " Bustin asked.
"A lot of IOUs," Sellers said.
"It hasn't been efficient at all," McClendon explained. A member of the new advisory board for the country club, he too was hesitant to approve the extra money but is getting a better understanding of the difficulties the new managers, Eagle Golf, are facing and the necessity of the point-of-sale system. It's been "A constant problem with the club as far as keeping up with the financials without having a system. It's hard to tell if you're profitable or breakeven at the time. It wasn't integrated. This will be.
"I hate to spend that much on it, but I don't think we have really a choice right now. We made a decision on where we wanted to go." Similarly, about $12,000 of the $30,000 for the maintenance fund will immediately be used to replace three heating coils on air conditioning units. The rest will be used as needs arise.
"I just think we need to be very diligent whether absolutely we have to or can it wait or not," Bustin said.
"These are start-up expenses," Mayor Ronnie Spradlin noted.
"I agree," McClendon answered. "But we kind of put a threshold on what we wanted to spend on that months ago when we agreed to do this. We can reach that threshold really quick at $30,000 a month." The council ultimately approved the expenditures unanimously.
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