City takes next step in selling gas utility

By Gilda Morales

The Van Horn City Council met in regular session last Tuesday and quickly went through a lengthy agenda before arriving at the “big one,” the last hoop that Council had to jump to get to the actual sale of the gas company to West Texas Gas.

In a unanimous vote, Council approved a “resolution authorizing the Town of Van Horn to sell its natural gas utility system and assets, including real and personal property, to West Texas Gas.” The vote clears the way for Council to approve the details in an assignment and bill of sale, which will be on the next agenda.

While selling the local gas company was overwhelmingly approved by local voters, the sale also means that the City will no longer have the revenue produced by the sale of gas. Per Jodi Corrales, Finance Director, the loss of revenue will mean that the salaries and expenses that had been covered by the gas revenues, would cause a shortfall in the City’s budget of more than $172,000. She advised Council that they would have to make some hard cuts in an already “bare-bones” budget or raise water rates and fees to make up the shortfall.

In other actions, Council:

Approved the pay rate for election judges and workers

Approved a joint election on May 1, 2021 to fill positions for the City and the School Board

Approved a resolution designating an administration service provider for the 2021-2022 TxCDBG Community Development Fund Application and Project Implementation

Award the contract for the TxCDBG grant to GrantWorks, who has been the administrator for several previous grants

Tabled action on adopting a policy on dealing with past due utility balances due to Covid 19

Approved ratification of a Memorandum of Understanding between the City-County Library and CCAISD to provide joint programs

Approved Covid-19 temporary changes to the usual library hours to allow for the resumption of their fingerprinting services

Approved a request from CCAISD to allow their contractors install a culvert and repave City streets by the school