Interim city administrator hits the ground running

The Van Horn City Council met in regular session last Monday night and kicked off the 2023 election season by ordering the City General Election for May 6, 2023. Three incumbent positions are up for grabs including Lyndon McDonald, Rene Mendoza, and Joseph Corrales. As of the meeting Monday night, only three people had filed an application to run for the open positions, incumbents Lyndon McDonald and Rene Mendoza, and new candidate, Laura Reyes. The last day to file an application for a place on the ballot is Friday, February 17, 2023.

Mayor Duane Corrales opened the meeting with a call for comments as part of a Public Hearing to discuss and prioritize the needs of the Town of Van Horn as they relate to the submission of applications for the 2023 Texas Department of Agriculture Texas Development Block Grant program grants (TxCDBG). There is approximately $250,000 available for the 2023 grant cycle, but according to Mr. Jerry Carbajal from GrantWorks, any ideas for the new year will have to target low to moderate income areas of the town instead of projects involving the entire town because of the increase in income levels.

Mr. Carbajal then gave Council a presentation and information on two TDA grant contracts for their approval. He also advised Council that the bids for the Downtown Revitalization project which will include new sidewalks, gutters, and ramps, would be opened next week. However, informed Council that the bids for replacing 2500 feet of new sewer line had not been let.

Prior to hearing administrative reports from interim City Administrator, LeAnn Gallman, Council:

Awarded the fuel contract to the only bidder, Hazel Canyon, owner Jim Engle

Awarded the contract for the concrete slab for the truck scale at the landfill to S&J General Contractor from El Paso for $58,500

Approved an agreement for assessment and collection of City taxes with Culberson County Appraisal District

Approved an engagement letter with Knapp & Company, P.C. for audit services

Renewed a contract with Lamar Advertising in the amount of $10, 535.46 for billboard advertising

Approved a request from Aliviane to waive the fee for the use of the El Capitan room at the Convention Center for an upcoming Free Health Clinic and Narcan/Naloxone training

Considered a request from Alderman McDonald to ask the Zoning Board to allow a resident to go through the rezoning request process so that the Council can possibly rezone from R1 to R3 lots 7 & 8 of Block 9, 106 W. 2nd to allow the placement of a manufactured home on the lots.

Interim City Administrator gave Council an update on City matters since the last meeting. She reported that her contact at Clear Career Professionals, the company hired to search for the next City Administrator/City Secretary, had completed a draft of a brochure which will be used to delineate the required qualifications for potential candidates. She also reported that she had followed up on recommendations for possible financing with Government Capital for the $2.4 million required for the infrastructure project. Ms. Gallman stated that she had finally met with a representative from the firm of Burgess & Niples who stopped by City Hall and reported that the bids on the Downtown Revitalization Project would be opened on February 21, and the bids for the DAF unit would be opened on February 23rd. However, she added that the bid requests for the Elm Street project would have to be readvertised but added the good news that the design for the pond liners at the golf course were complete.

In closing, Ms. Gallman told Council that she had met with both the utility and office staff and had clarified how the chain of command should work. Ms. Gallman also emphasized to Council the importance of following the chain of command to prevent problems that arise when employees are given directions by the administrator, and Council gets involved, creating confusion within the staff. She also reminded Council that it is budget season and tentatively set the first budget workshop for next Wednesday, February 22nd at 7:00 p.m.


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