City Council meets to address COVID-19 concerns

By Gilda Morales

The Van Horn City Council met in regular session last Tuesday to work on the next fiscal year’s budget, but took time at the start of the meeting to address concerns about the COVID-19 and its impact locally. The Council was unanimous on several actions that would help protect City employees from contracting the virus. As such, Council was on the same page with Governor Abbott’s Executive Orders and in accordance with Federal guideline to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.

Council also voiced agreement with the resolutions recently passed by the Culberson County Commissioners’ Court. The Council proactively ordered all City offices, including City Hall, Convention Center, City-County Library, Mountain View Golf Course, Utility Office, and Clark Hotel Museum, to be closed to the public until April 3, 2020.

Council also considered measures to mitigate the economical impact that lay-offs and business closures will be having on local residents, and voted to suspend all water and gas cutoffs due to non-payment. This measure will be in effect for March and April. These charges would be rolled over to May with no penalty, an option that El Paso Electric will also be offering. Council also voted to consider hardship cases where residents who could only provide partial payment or were unable to make a payment at all, on a case-by-case basis, but proof of hardship would have to be provided.

Residents were also encouraged to pay their utility bill over-the-phone, online, or by dropping their payments in the City Hall drop box.

Before proceeding to their budget workshop, Council went into executive session to discuss the agenda item, “Consideration and action to be taken by the Town of Van Horn with respect to HCWCID #1…regarding purported water supply agreement.” No action was taken after the Council returned to open session.

Residents are encouraged to keep up with the latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic on the Town of Van Horn and Culberson County facebook pages.

Editor’s note: The Advocate found that “Petition in lawsuit (was) filed on March 24, 2020, by the Town of Van Horn vs. Hudspeth County WCID #1, in the 205th Judicial District Court.” According to Steve Mitchell, City Attorney, “We cannot comment about the suit which is now filed in the District Court. Since this matter is in litigation, we are prohibited from making any comments or addressing any questions.” The lawsuit, as filed, is a public record and can be located at the Clerk’s Office at the Courthouse in Van Horn.