City OKs pact with Western Container

The Big Spring City Council gave the go ahead Tuesday night to contract with engineering firm Parkhill, Smith & Cooper to develop plans for an expansion of the building currently housing Western Container, estimated at 1,500 to 2,000 square feet.The council approved the contract with Parkhill, Smith & Cooper for engineering and architectural services for the expansion on a unanimous vote.According to City Attorney Linda Sjogren, the expansion will benefit both Western Container and the city of Big Spring.“Western Container had approached us and they want to expand their building,” Sjogren told the council. “Their lease is coming up for renewal soon and they are asking to expand the building by approximately 1,500 to 2,000 square feet.“The purpose of these two items is to have Parkhill, Smith & Cooper prepare bid specifications and calculate a probable cost for us. Once that is done — and it would be done between the city and Parkhill, Smith & Cooper — and we've put it out for bids, we'll negotiate a lease extension with Western Container so they can pay back the cost of this expansion over a few extra years. So this will allow us to extend the lease, somewhat, and give us some additional space out there.”The council also approved a measure to allow the city to negotiate a new lease with Western Container, which will include adjustments related to the expansion. The measure was approved on a unanimous vote.Also during the meeting, the council gave final approval of a franchise agreement with Atmos Energy Corporation.The council approved first reading of the agreement during its Oct. 9 meeting on a unanimous vote.The agreement — which expires at the end of October — is for 10 years and will net the city $170,000 annually, according to City Finance Director Peggy Walker.Walker said approval of the franchise agreement with Atmos will not cause a change in rates for Big Spring customers.“The city has the option to come back at a specific interval and renegotiate the franchise fee,” Walker said. “However, Atmos has made it clear that any increase in the franchise fee will be passed on to the customers, which are the citizens of Big Spring.”Also during the meeting, the council approved first reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 6 of the city code entitled “Cemeteries, Parks and Recreations” to permit concessions stands to be locked with keys provided by the city and providing a $100 fee for failure to return the keys.The council also appointed local resident Peggy Hopper to its planning and zoning commission and reappointed Debra Wallace to the Howard County 911 Communications District board of directors.