Palmview City Council met Tues., Feb. 6, and discussed several plans for the city in the upcoming months.
Starting off with commendations for Leonardo Sanchez from the police department and Municipal and Chamber employees for their work on the city’s prize-winning float for the Texas Citrus Parade, the council worked its way into the conversation about actions regarding Agua Special Utility District (SUD).
In regards to the city’s ordinance to establish Wastewater Connection Fees, the council and city finance department moved to carry the motion to cover the cost of residential and commercial lots. At the time of development, residential lots will cost $3,157, and commercial lots will cost $4,157. The matter was presented by Finance Director Rachel Chapa.
“This is to recover the cost of connecting the empty lots to the wastewater system currently underway by Agua SUD,” Chapa said. “We have established two rates to recuperate the cost. These costs lie in the fact that when Agua SUD installs the sewer system, they are going to tear up the streets.” Chapa said the original agreement with Agua SUD was that the company would just do the patchwork for where they were going to connect the lots, then come back and connect empty lots, but the city is trying to avoid Agua SUD from breaking up the street in the future.
“The city has made the decision for the whole street to be repaved and to connect the empty lots to the sewer system and repave the whole street,” Chapa said. “This is so in the future when those lots get developed, they don’t have to go back in and tear the street up to connect to the sewer system.”
The council also passed a motion having to do with two Interlocal Agreements involving Agua SUD for paving costs and wastewater connections. There are 331 vacant lots in the city, and according to Interim City Manager Leonardo Olivares, Agua SUD has the authority to make the connections, but they did not put them down as part of that project. It will cost $950,000 to connect those empty lots.
“Agua SUD has reviewed it, and they’re ready to approve it,” Olivares said. “We’ve had this reviewed by at least three, four attorneys.”
Council Member Linda Sarabia brought up a few questions regarding these agreements, the foremost being the assurance that the funds allocated will go into this project and there will be monitoring of the project on the city’s behalf.
“I mean, what if we give them the $950,000, and they don’t connect?” Sarabia said. “We need to be good stewards, and we don’t want to give them this money if it doesn’t get complete.”
Olivares said that part of the agreement stipulates that the city’s engineer will be present and make inspections to ensure Agua SUD is making the installments at the proper addresses. The motions were carried.
Another item of note was the discussion of an election to re-dedicate sales tax from Crime Prevention and Economic development. Olivares said that Crime Prevention covers the police department and public safety and cutting funds would lead to cutting the department 25 percent.
“Right now our staff levels are at 31, 32 peace officers, which is where we need to be for public safety based on our population: two peace officers per thousand residents,” Olivares said. “If the council wanted to re-dedicate it, we’d have to look at making some cuts.”
Earlier in the meeting, the council commended Police Chief Chris Barrera for the crime rate in Palmview recently going down. According to Barrera, this is because the public is aware that more officers are patrolling the city.
This election was brought up by Sarabia, who asked if the tax was going directly to employment, or to equipment that the department does not need at the moment. Olivares said that the funds go into the revenue side of crime prevention.
The law recently changed to where funds do not need to be split directly in half, and Sarabia proposes that more sales tax be pumped into economic development. Because of the confusion that came from the conversation, the city moved to hold a special meeting on the matter separately. The deadline for this decision is Feb. 16.
Palmview City Council also approved to support an affordable housing project by Brownstone Affordable Housing for proposed Palmview Village Apartments.
“This is to allow Brownstone to submit the application to the state,” Olivares said. With the city growing, the council carried the motion.
The council also moved to establish a Youth Advisory Council that would involve local students. The Parks and Recreation department brought up the idea to include students from La Joya High School, Palmview High School, and Juarez-Lincoln High School, and involve 15 students, but the board moved to keep the council at a maximum of seven students, all of whom must be citizens of the city of Palmview.