By Edna Clark
Van Horn City Council met Tuesday evening with all aldermen in attendance.
Dion Corrales reported that the waste water project is progressing well and should be completed by the end of this week.
Council approved a request from Golf Course Manager, Raul Rodriguez, to close the golf course from March 21 through March 28 for aeration of the greens.
Daila McAnally, Area Specialist of Rural Development, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) presented the latest programs available to cities, small businesses, and non-profit entities. Currently, the USDA has 44 programs that are open to Texas groups that qualify for grants and/or loans. According to McAnally, there was money (over $70,000,000) that was not distributed last year, and the federal USDA office has instructed her and her peers to make sure that all the Texas money is spent. The Town of Van Horn is 45% eligible for loans and/or grants for water and waste water treatment programs.
The water programs would provide funding through low interest loans first followed by grants if necessary for much needed water wells, storage tanks, and water transmission & distribution lines. According to City Secretary, Fran Malafronte, an update to the Sierra Blanca water distribution lines would ease problems of supplying water to areas west of Van Horn.
Under the USDA program, Van Horn currently is qualified for loans with 2.5% interest rate payable over forty years. As this writer understood, the current 2.5% interest rate is subject to an additional 0.8% decrease within the next three months, rendering an end interest rate of 1.7%. Additionally, any loan received through this program has no penalty for early payoff of such loans.
City council will need to solicit bids from engineers to coordinate any projects. Time frames for completing any projects are dependent upon how quickly an engineer is hired and studies performed. A new incentive for engineers to submit bids for services is that the USDA will prepay them $30,000 when hired by the city.
McAnally stated that she will review all requests and supporting documents provided by Malafronte as soon as she receives them because she has to spend the USDA money. Applications can now be submitted on-line thereby decreasing the time from request to completion of any projects, usually within one year. This USDA program can provide much needed repairs and/or replacement of the aging water supply systems, as well as other city needs. For more information on the USDA programs, individuals can visit the website www.usda.gov.
Malafonte updated council that she has received a contract from Jerry Carbajal with GrantWorks for purchasing the new fire truck which should be received shortly.