City Council reconsiders fees for current housing construction

By Gilda Morales

The Van Horn City Council met in regular session last Monday and heard a slew of good news from department heads and administration. Edward Torres, Director of Municipal services reported that the cap had been placed on the new water tank and welding is well underway, with x-rays of the welds to follow to ensure that there will be no leaks. After that, the cosmetic work will begin, with sanding, priming and painting signaling the completion of the much-awaited tank, tentatively by Christmas. As for the gas company, Torres reported that gas revenues are up with increased consumption during the cold weather. He told Council that although gas usage at the sand plant had slowed because of the closure of Chalk Mountain Trucking, that Navaho Trucking will soon be in operation to transport sand and gas usage should be back up.

(VHA Photo | DB) Progress on Van Horn’s new water tank. A long anticipated project- attempts to prolong the life of the existing 40-year old tank have been largely unsuccessful. This new welded tank will have an expected 80-year lifespan.
(VHA Photo | DB) Progress on Van Horn’s new water tank. A long anticipated project- attempts to prolong the life of the existing 40-year old tank have been largely unsuccessful. This new welded tank will have an expected 80-year lifespan.

Torres also brought attention to a chronic problem in town having to do with increased truck traffic, which brings more litter to the areas they use for parking and which produces an eyesore at not only the local truckstops, but at the lots behind the old H&H and Valero on Highway 90. Torres reported that the deep ruts caused by the trucks are almost always filled with water which during warmer weather creates a health hazard by providing a breeding ground for mosquitos. Torres advised Council that he and his staff could clean the areas up in very little time with their permission and all agreed that the problem of truck parking needed to be investigated to search for a more permanent solution.

City Administrator Fran Malafronte reported that city tax revenues are starting to come in and that more than $172,000 were collected this month. Malafronte then presented Council with a resolution for their approval, to close Broadway for the Lighted Christmas Parade, with an open date for the event in case of rain or other inclement weather. She also reported on the lighting at Okey Lucas Park which had been shorting out when they got wet because of a faulty design in the lights. Council voted to replace the current lights with a new design which would provide even more lighting than currently available. Malafronte told Council that Mr. Torres had also managed to repair almost all of the lights on West Broadway next to the motels, a problem that had plagued Broadway Street for a long time. She also presented a request from Bill Story for the City to waive or reduce fees for utility taps for the new home construction he has started in the Austin Heights area. Malafronte added that Story had agreed to use gas instead of electricity in his new homes as a concession to the city helping with fees. Councilman Garibay proposed a reduction of half the fees if Mr. Story complied with the construction of all 12 homes he had proposed building, otherwise the fees would have to be paid in full. Council agreed to this proposal unanimously after they were reminded that they had waived fees for the David Ballard home construction a few years back.

David Scott, local businessman, came before Council to request a reduction in fees for small businesses but was told that he was already at the lowest rate for small businesses. Council told Scott that no change in fees could be considered until next year’s budget workshops in March, in order to be fair to other small businesses.

Council then heard a request from J.B. Engle to have the city sewer line extended to the ETJ which starts in the alley before Engle’s property on FM 2185. After considerable discussion, Council decided to approve the extension to the alley, but any connection to the City sewer system would be Engle’s responsibility. Councilmen were reluctant to extend the sewer line outside the city limits because they did not want to tax the current system but relented because several other properties in the ETJ on Bell Street and off of highway 54 already had access. In other action, Council decided to continue shopping for monuments at the entrance to town since the only ones that were presented were deemed too pricey at this time.

Jamie Hudson advised Council that TCEQ had instructed the City to provide proof that the lagoons at the golf course had liners by hiring engineers to take core samples of the lagoons. Council instructed Hudson to continue with finding an engineer to do the core samples and comply with TCEQ.