During a special called meeting held Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018 council voted and approved the hiring of H.R. Bert Peña to provide Mission with federal representation in Washington, D.C. in order to extend the city’s presidential permit.
The item was tabled at the last regular called city council meeting, as a few council members had questions regarding the agreement. Peña will now provide representation at the U.S. Department of State in order to help secure an extension of the presidential permit an additional ten years (it is set to expire in 2021).
The agreement will be “for a period not to exceed three months or no later than March 31, 2019 at a compensation of $5,000 per month.” Any services provided by Peña after that three month limit would be on an “as needed” basis at the rate of $200 per hour.
After meeting again, council voted to approve the consulting services agreement with Peña. They hope to have an idea about the permit some time in March or April of this year, and will take steps from there.
At a workshop held the day before the special meeting, council spoke about a proposed Madero Bridge action plan that would span over ten years. Until the request for the Presidential Permit extension is granted, the city cannot move forward.
The extension is part of the process, according to acting City Manager Randy Perez.
Mayor and council also held a workshop this Wednesday morning, where they went over seven potential amendments and ordinances to be further discussed and recommended for approval at the next city council meetings. None of the proposed amendments or ordinances have been approved or voted on.
Jaime Acevedo, the Planning Director for Mission, presented all the items at the workshop.
Three of the items on the workshop agenda included amendments to planning fees, building permit fees and park fees. Mission compared the fees to those of other cities, and decided to make adjustments, as the planning fees alone had not been changed since 2004.
“We’ll be under or at what other cities are charging,” Acevedo said. “We’re not exceeding what other cities charge.”
The planning fees for rezoning, conditional use permits, mailout radius for business entities, single lot variances, homestead exemption variances, subdivision filings and reviews, separate subdivision variances, flood zone letters, separation verification for lending institutions, credit access business registration certificates, sign variances, business licenses and certificates of occupancy and park fees will be proposed to increase at the next council meeting.
“It is going to be an additional cost to the developers, to the citizens, for a lot of these fees,” Acevedo said. “But, we’re trying to make a change since it’s been 14, 15 years since these fees have been touched.”
The city is also going to recommend increases to certain building permit fees.
“This has to do with the permit fees that the subcontractors, the electricians, the plumbers, the fees that they come in and pull,” Acevedo said. “The bottom line is, if someone comes in and gets a plumbing permit, they are going to see an increase of maybe $35 or $40 from what they’re accustomed to paying; this goes for the electricians, for the plumbers, and for the air conditioning people that are coming in and pulling permits.”
The change in park fees, which are usually charged through the planning board, were discussed also with the Parks and Recreation Department. Director Brad Bentsen said that the parks board had been talking about raising the fees for several months.
Park fees (specifically for park land development) have remained at $300 since the last revision in May 2005.
Before that, they had been at $200 since 1986.
“This isn’t something that we periodically come in and revise, we usually go a pretty good term without having to revise the fees,” Acevedo said. “The city of McAllen is charging $700 per lot fee. We’re currently at $300, we’re asking to be at $400.”
The park fee changes still have to be presented to the planning and zoning committee, so this item will not be voted on until the second city council meeting in January.
“The whole purpose of it is that land has gotten so costly,” Bentsen said. “Kids don’t really have a place to play at in their yards anymore. It allows development for more park land.”