TEXARKANA, Texas — During a regular meeting Monday, the City Council approved a contract with a Dallas-based accounting firm to perform the city's next three annual financial audits.
BKD LLP will do independent audits of the city's books for the fiscal years ending in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and the city will have the option to extend the contract two more years thereafter.
The firm's fee will increase each year of the contract: $141,000 for the 2019 audit, $145,250 for 2020, $150,000 for 2021, $155,000 for 2022 and $160,000 for 2023. Total cost for all five years is $751,250.
City staff recommended using BKD because it is one of the largest CPA firms in the U.S., according to a summary published with the meeting's agenda.
"The Dallas office has 110 personnel. The large number of personnel would allow for very little impact to the City should personnel turn over," the summary states.
Staff also pointed out that BKD is the auditor for Texarkana, Arkansas, and therefore is already familiar with Texarkana Water Utilities operations.
Staff rejected the only other proposal, from accounting firm JWCK Ltd. of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Local firm Holliday, Lemons and Cox PC is unable to continue as the city's auditor because of staffing changes.
The Council appointed Cheryl Joyce as election day judge for the Ward 6 City Council election to be held Jan. 28. Texas law requires such a judge to be appointed by a political subdivision other than a county when it orders an election. Joyce will assign election officers and oversee the ballot count.
Banker Jay Davis and real estate agent Mike Ingram are contending for the Ward 6 seat, which has been resigned by Council Member Josh Davis so he can run for Bowie County, Texas, tax assessor-collector. Josh Davis abstained from Monday's vote on appointing Joyce.
Only Ward 6 residents may vote in the election. Early voting continues weekdays through Jan. 24 — with the exception of Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day — at City Hall, 220 Texas Blvd. Early voting hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Early voting hours will be extended to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 21.
On the day of the election, Jan. 28, there will be one polling place, the Pleasant Grove Middle School band hall at 5605 Cooks Lane. A different polling place used by some Ward 6 residents during county-run elections will not be used for the City Council vote.
The Council approved by consent a budgeted contract for improvements at the Wright Patman Lake pump station. Texas-side company H&K Electric Inc. was the low bidder at $431,516. The project will replace electrical switch gear.
During the meeting, the Council heard first briefings on zoning and construction matters, including:
— revising a site plan to allow signage at a collision center at 924 Kenwood Road,
— rezoning a lot in the 3000 block of St. Michael Drive to allow restaurants there,
— allowing, in limited circumstances, an access driveway from a public street to an abutting rear yard, and
— changing speed limits on FM 559/Richmond Road.
The proposed speed limits will be 40 mph for north- and southbound traffic from SH 93/Summerhill Road to a point 1,100 feet south of Airline Drive, and 50 mph from that point to the north city limit. The 45 mph zone on Richmond would be eliminated.
The Council's next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27.