By Lisa Morton
A regular meeting of the Van Horn City Council was held last Tuesday in a hybrid format addressing public safety during the ongoing pandemic. City staff, council members, the public, outside consultants and other presenters met remotely via Zoom. The previous meeting was held at the Convention Center, but technical difficulties made the audio difficult to understand, and as a result, this meeting was moved back to Council chambers, with very limited attendance.
Mayor Becky Brewster opened a Public Hearing to obtain citizens’ views and to review the performance of the completed Texas Community Development Block Grant contract for the emergency back-up power generators project. Jerry Carvajal from GrantWorks, Inc., was recognized for providing the final details to satisfy the terms of the contract for submission to the Texas Department of Agriculture. With no attendees at the Public Hearing, Council approved the submission of the Performance of Completed Contract for the grant due on 12-30-2020.
Mr. Sergio Adame, an engineer from the engineering firm of Brock & Bustillos, submitted a proposal to Council which would address the Capital Improvement Plan for water distribution, transmission, and sanitary sewer collection system in Van Horn. Mr. Adame detailed the scope of work involved in the $32,500 project and estimated that the work would be completed in approximately two months. Council approved the agreement for services with a request from Lyndon McDonald for transparency on the project from the engineering firm.
Council then worked out the details of the City COVID-19 Reopening Plan tabled at the last meeting. Council agreed to reopen City Hall on Monday, December 14th. The City will be open during regular business hours and will allow face-to-face service that follows CDC guidelines for social distancing and mandatory temperature checks. Sanitation and disinfection measures were agreed on along with installing additional protective partitions for employees. Council agreed that the Clark Hotel and Museum tours should be by appointment only.
City Administrator Fran Malafronte relayed information on the sale of the natural gas utility to West Texas Gas, moving it forward after voters approved the sale at the General Election. The sale has not been finalized with additional information needed by one or both parties. Council agreed to ask West Texas Gas to extend the December 18, 2020 sale date to January 15, 2021. Mayor Brewster advised Council that West Texas Gas agreed to let the City keep the gas utility building with no change to their offer.
At the previous City Council meeting, water operator Jaime Hudson reported that Nexgen, the company that was hired to line the ponds at the local golf course, had submitted a “change order” to their original contract, which was for $197,000. Nexgen asked for an additional $200,000 for the project, after the company found out that a drainage system was required to be installed beneath the liners per TCEQ requirements.
City Attorney, Steve Mitchell informed Council that a “change order” could not be for double the price of the original contract and that since neither Nexgen nor the City had signed the contract, it was not binding. Council thought it prudent to ask Brock & Bustillo to “take a look” at the project before proceeding.
In other business matters:
Approved minutes of November 24, 2020 meeting with amendments.
Approved the City 2021 Holiday Calendar.