Whether it was case of “calm before the storm” or merely the cold weather outside Tuesday night, the Hope City Board saw a light agenda and finished up their business in near record time of 20 minutes, but the next meeting of the board will prove more consequential as several appointments are to be made.

Whether it was case of “calm before the storm” or merely the cold weather outside Tuesday night, the Hope City Board saw a light agenda and finished up their business in near record time of 20 minutes, but the next meeting of the board will prove more consequential as several appointments are to be made.
Among the most prominent of the upcoming appointments include the Hope Water & Commission, which sees Dr. Lester Sitzes term expiring.  Sitzes has been part of a commission that has approved a series of rate hikes at HWL over the past two years, that continue into 2018.
At the last HWL Commissioners meeting in December, Sitzes voted in favor of HWL’s budget, which kept in tact a five-percent water increase this year as well as $500 HWL employee Christmas bonuses.
During Sitzes’ term, HWL Water rates increased in 2017 by 5-percent, after a 7.5 percent increase in 2016, with the the end result being a cumulative 17.5 percent increase to city residents for water over the time period.
At the same time, HWL electrical rates went up 5-percent in 2016, after consecutive increases of 5-percent in 2015 and 3.2-percent in 2014 with residents taking a 13.2 cumulative increase over the past three years.
Serving with Sitzes on the HWL Commission have been Chairman Jerry Pruden, Dr. Ladell Douglas, former Hope mayor and bank president Dennis Ramsey, and Judy Davis, the former interim CEO of the Hempstead County Economic Development Corporation.
Sitzes is the only HWL Commissioner, whose term expired in 2017. Douglas cycles next in 2019, while Pruden (2020) and Davis (2021) are years away. Ramsey was appointed the HWL Commission, last January.  
Board member Kiffenea Talley asked Mayor Steve Montgomery about criteria to serve on city boards and commissioners, and Montgomery replied that the main one was to be an actual resident of the City of Hope.
“We do welcome citizens to serve. These are non-paying positions that sometimes take hours of time in meetings and service. Our problem has been finding people, and in the past, we’ve had people interested, but they live outside city limits,” he said.
Talley said she knew of several interested parties that would be interested in applying.  All city-based boards and commissions are appointed by the Hope City Board of Directors.
Other prominent appointments will be at the Planning and Zoning Commission, while two positions, currently held by Mitch Bobo and Robert Whitlock, have terms expired, with a possible third position, currently held by Sharon Wright, also in question as she has since relocated from the area.
The Tourism Commission will have at least one appointment, the expired term of Milko Smith, and expected reappointment of City board representative Trevor Coffee.
Other commissions and board with expired terms include the Hope Housing Authority (William Tolleson) and the Hempstead County Economic Development Board (Jay Trevillion).
Of the city board and commissions, HWL and Tourism oversee and independently command multimillion dollar budgets, while Planning and Zoning vets and approves city zoning for business and residential properties.
In other city board news from Tuesday, the directors unanimously approved an application for an “Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program,” with a city match of five percent.
For the Hope Police Department, there were two measures approved involving police vehicles, buying two new ones, and then closing out two as surplus.
Hope Police Chief JR Wilson said, “The city is insured for a certain number of police cars.  As we bring in newer cars into the fleet, we rotate some out.”
The board unanimously approved a “Waive Bid” ordinance for HPD to purchase two used Chevrolet Impalas. Wilson said the cars were “Rental surplus vehicles.”
“These cars are rentals, typically with 20,000 miles on them and well-maintained. Good cars for good pricing are out there, and we need the flexibly to purchase as they become available,” he said.
Wilson said the newer cars will be for detectives and/or administration. The combined approved expense for the two cars was set at $33,000.
The HPD surplus vehicles named included a 2007 Chevy Impala and a 2012 Dodge Charger. Wilson said these cars will be sold on govdeals.com. in accordance with state law. Both cars were said to have over 100,000 miles on them.