This week, city leaders discussed potential amendments to inspections and planning fees, more modifications to COVID guidelines and the $24.3 million stimulus funds the city will receive from the Department of Treasury.
City staff compared inspection and planning fees with other municipalities and determined the City of Mission needs to make adjustments to certain services provided to the community. Planning Director Susie De Luna proposed adjusting the prices for inspections for the plumbing, gas, swimming pool, solar panel and renovation permit fees, and adding a voluntary annexation fee.
Currently, the plumbing fee is calculated by the square footage of the home. Under the amendment, plumbing would be charged per fixture. The gas fee would be increased to be compatible with other cities, such as McAllen.
For the swimming pool permit, the fee is currently calculated by the value, but De Luna said the planning staff noticed some contractors put a lesser amount to pay a lesser fee. Under the amendment, there would be a set fee of $300. The solar panel permit fee is currently calculated by cost but with the amendment, the fee would be set at $300.
Regarding commercial and remodeling permits, the City is requesting the flexibility to charge either by value or square footage depending on the nature of the project.
There is currently no charge for voluntary annexation, but under the new amendment, there would be a fee to cover the cost of any publications the City does and any notices they mail out.
No one from the community signed up to speak in favor or opposition to the proposed item. Mayor Armando O’Caña expressed concern that the community wasn’t given proper notice of the amendment in question and therefore does not have a fair chance to have its say on the matter.
“I just don’t understand how we can have a public hearing right now,” O’Caña said. “We can discuss it to see if the council is ready for any fee changes or whatever, but to have a public hearing for approval of the ordinance, in my opinion, is premature.”
De Luna said the item was advertised in the Progress Times newspaper, which is proper protocol for the City when it comes to amendments. But the mayor does not think that will suffice.
“The concern that I had is that we should have put it into maybe a workshop,” O’Caña said. “The normal process is we do a workshop, then we put it as an agenda item, then a public hearing is held at the next city council [meeting] so people are given an opportunity to research and provide feedback. And in the spirit of transparency.”
City council voted to table the item to allow more time for the community to review and speak on the potential changes.
The City of Mission continues to gradually loosen COVID restrictions. Following suit of the Boys & Girls Club, the library and museum will open up to limited capacity. Speer Memorial Library will allow patrons inside the part of the building that is not under construction. The facility will close between noon and 1 p.m. each day for sanitizing, and there will be a two-hour limit of computer time per user, per day. The Mission Historical Museum will reopen at 50 percent capacity. City Manager Randy Perez said he and his team will monitor the facilities and make adjustments as needed to the guidelines.
The Parks & Rec department will start registering for city-sponsored league play for adults. There will be restrictions in the dugouts and on the bleachers. Additional park restrooms will be open, as well. The parks will also be open for Easter Sunday festivities.
Local 5k and 10k runs will also be allowed under the new loosened guidelines. During the race, start times would be staggered and runners spaced out to maintain social distancing, and there will be no medal ceremony after the event.
Mayor O’Caña plans to call a workshop soon to discuss the details of the stimulus package the City of Mission received from the federal government. The Department of Treasury will provide specific guidelines for how the funds can be used but they have not released the information as of March 23. Once the guidelines have been determined, Mission City Council will hold a workshop so the community may be informed.
“The amount was $24.3 million,” the Mission mayor said. “So as far as that is concerned, we can start working on coming up with a good expenditure plan for the money that’s going to stimulate our community to before the way it was moving toward, prior to COVID-19.”