City property tax rate adopted

By Gilda Morales

The Van Horn City Council met in Regular Session last Tuesday and quickly moved to adopt the 2020 Property Tax Rate after a Public Hearing yielded no comments. The tax rate that was adopted stands at 0.500071 per $100 valuation.

Council also voted unanimously to have the City clean up the property at 709 W. First Street as a matter of public health, after multiple complaints from neighbors. Under a state statute addressing public health hazards, an exterminator will be called prior to bringing in a roll-off container for the cleanup.

City Administrator Fran Malafronte asked Council for approval to contact businesses, churches, and other entities, as part of a COVID-19 Community Outreach Program to keep local residents safe by providing masks, sanitizer or Personal Protective Equipment or PPE as needed. Council approved the request unanimously.

Councilman Garibay requested that the City resume regular work hours from 7 to 4 daily, with council agreeing unanimously. City Administrator Malafronte recommended that if at all possible, customers should use the drive-through window on the east side of City Hall, for their safety and that of employees, but that if customers requested to come into the building, they would be accommodated.

Council then heard from Utilities Director Edward Torres, who was requesting overtime pay for utility employees who are called outside normal working hours to repair leaks or address other problems. Finance Director Jodi Corrales explained that per FLSA rules, overtime cannot be paid until 40 hours per week are physically worked. At this time, utility employees are working an abbreviated schedule, but getting paid for the 40 hours per week. On City Attorney Steve Mitchell’s recommendation, a labor attorney will be consulted for clarification, after which this agenda item will be addressed again.