Council approves way-finding sign funding

A divided city council voted to move forward with the conceptual designing phase of the city’s way-finding signage project.

The council approved to move forward with task 2 of the project. However, Tuesday’s meeting circled around the use of Hotel Occupancy Tax Funds to pay for the remaining consulting fees to fd2s, a signage company based in Austin, as well as the remainder of the project.

The overall project is geared to install signs to help direct citizens to different city buildings and attractions in Huntsville.

Councilmember Andy Brauninger motioned to have the consultant study cost and the remaining $49,600 of the project to be funded with HOT Funds instead of dipping into general funds.

“I’m opposed to funding the study from the general revenue,” Brauninger said. “If it’s legal and it’s been proven and the state legislature has included this as a funding mechanism for signage and we have over $1 million in our HOT Funds that we trying to figure out to spend, why wouldn’t we spend it on the signage?”

Task 2 of the project totals $24,000, with task 3 totaling $12,000. City Manager Matt Benoit advised the council to gather more information on the project before requesting HOT Funds from a citizens committee, citing a two-pronged test for HOT Funds to be applied.

The council has appointed a citizen board to review recommended uses of HOT Funds and looks at whether or not the project “puts heads in beds” and directs visitors to visit one of the eight attractions identified.

“I don’t believe we are far enough in this project, for me or anybody else, to stand in front of that citizen board and say we have designed this project, we have identified locations, we have identified all of the attractions, so therefore we can make an argument the project meets the two pronged test,” Benoit said. “If you use general funds, you avoid the issue of ‘well show me how you’ve met the two-pronged test.’”

Brauninger withdrew his motion and the council passed to use general funds in a 6-3 vote. Councilmen Ronald Allen, Brauninger and Joe Emmett voted against the motion to use general funds.

City Council also:

  • Approved the purchasing of nine vehicles including four patrol vehicles for Huntsville Police department.
  • Approved the naming of the amphitheater at the Sam Houston State statue in honor of former City Manager Gene Pipes.
  • Approved an ordinance to deny Entergy’s application of approval for distribution cost recovery factors. The council cited Entergy requested $2 million too much and is now before the Public Utility Commission.

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