City gets “sticker shock” on Capital Improvement costs

By Gilda Morales

The Van Horn City Council met in regular session last Tuesday to tackle an extraordinarily long agenda heavy on technical presentations and with a shocking price tag as well. Raul Issa, from Brock & Bustillos Engineering, gave Council a power-point presentation of what it would take to fix the City’s aging water infrastructure. Mr. Issa gave Council a preliminary estimate of $12.5 million dollars over 6 years, which was not a true cost since some project costs were not available yet.

Mayor Brewster advised Mr. Issa that the cost over 6 years was not feasible but asked him to resubmit the plan with costs extended over a 10-year period. Mr. Issa agreed to Ms. Brewster’s request and told her that figures should be available by the next Council meeting.

With heads still reeling from Mr. Issa’s cost estimate, Council reviewed a quote from Finished Concrete Systems for a new, epoxy clear coat for the floor of the grand hall at the Convention Center at cost of $31,875. However, Councilman Mendoza reported that there were still issues with the roof leaking and recommended that no action be taken on the clear coat for the floor until the leaks in the roof could be fixed. As such, Council decided to look into options for fixing the roof first.

A representative from ESS, an electrical system supply company, presented details on the Council’s request for qualifications for engineering plans for a new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. SCADA is used to monitor our water system to see if wells and generators are working, as well as monitoring water level and for possible leaks. Council was convinced to go with the company after the presentation and the item to consider hiring the company will be on the next meeting’s agenda, since there would be no need for an engineering firm with ESS.

Council also approved an RFQ (request for qualifications) from Burgess & Nipple Engineering firm to prepare all preliminary and final design plans and specifications, and to conduct all necessary interim and final inspections for maintenance and upgrades for the Town’s wastewater system, including the lagoon system at the golf course. Services will include any TCEQ permitting or upgrades to the existing ponds.

In other action, council:

Agreed to renew a 6-month contract with Sinclair Broadcasting Group, KFOX, for continued tourism advertising

Agreed to a zoning variance for Ilian Flores on Lot 2, Block A, Santa Cruz subdivision from B1 Commercial to R3 Residential

Approved resolution No. 21-07-011 denying El Paso Electric Company’s Application to change rates

Denied a request from City Staff to close on July 20 to attend viewing of Blue Origin’s space flight. Council recommended that staff watch from the office and order brunch

Reviewed House Bill 872: protection of municipally owned utility customer information, where customers can decide who, if anyone, can access their utility information

Voted against opening the local landfill to other municipalities for the dumping of their municipal household waste

Voted to pay off the lease with Ally Financial for two 2018 Chevy Silverado trucks and consider legal action against the company

Heard departmental reports