City Council met at 6 PM Thursday June 26th. Following the pledge the citizen comment period was opened. By the way, the council is prohibited to discuss or take action on anything discussed during the citizen comment period, but may opt to place an item brought up by a citizen on a future council agenda. Citizen Bill White spoke during the comment period. He had compaints about lack of enforcement of specific parking regulations such as parking facing the wrong way on the street, an illegally parked travel trailer (not mine!), and city officials, including police officers, breaking these same parking regulations. City Administrator Jim Mustard responded that Marfa has no city parking ordinance, so technically officers can't enforce parking restrictions that are not on state highways. by the way, all our major thoroughfares through Marfa are state highways.
More discussion was had, no resolutions or items placed on future agendas, although Mustard did say that council could opt to create a parking ordinance at some point.
Next, last meeting's minutes were approved unanimously. Oh yes, by the way, members absent from the meeting were Rudy Garcia and Rusty Garlick. In attendance were Scott May, David Beebe, Manny Baeza and Mayor Dan Dunlap.
Mayor's Report- None
City Administrator's Report- Jim Mustard announced that the pool at the MAC is open for business. We have 7 lifeguards. Also, the ORCA grant for the library is on schedule, as is construction. The project that includes the grant must be completed before August 1 or we lose the remaining unspent money. Next, the sewer plant grant update was given. We have unofficially passed the environmental study and the engineering firm we hired should be finished with the drawings and specs by April. They have provided us a timeline in writing. This is also a project that must be finished before the end of the grant funding deadline.
Next, Jim Mustard talked about the ORCA Water Well grant. This was to repair and/or replace Water Well #3, one of our larger wells that is making some major noise. Previous attempts at normal service have failed. No change this time with the giant crew pulling on it with drilling muds and heavy equipment. The well is still working, and may for quite some time, but is unrepairable. We have to spend the rest of this $295,000 grant by the end of Sept in order not to lose it. Plan B is to bid on a backup generator for the Water Plant and to spend the remainder on Water Well #4, which can pump 400 gallons perminute but is not hooked up to a chlorinator or the city system. Also, we will abandon Water Well #5, which is not hooked up to either the system or a chlorinator and can only pump 60 gallons per minute.
Mustard also mentioned that the steel recycling program was very successful (all agree). Also, the school district is applying for a parking variance from the zoning board for the new school gyms they will be building. More discussion about lack of parking rules in our city, etc.
Council member comments:
Scott May applauded the steel recycling program. He also brought up possible rules for "Jake brake" usage by rigs in the city. Citizens have complained and most cities, small and large, in Texas have "No Engine Brake" ordinances on the books. Ironically, as he spoke, an 18 wheeler outsid city hall at 90 & 67 used its Engine brake to stop at the light.
No other comments from Manny or myself.
2009 TCDP Block Grant- the had been a public hearing prior to the council meetingdiscussing this grant and its potential application. Also discussed was how the TCDP was prioritizing grant monies by differing "point values" for projects. Projects more likely to get maximum monies and priority treatment are water and sewer projects, rather than parks, libraries or transportation issues. We voted unanimously to apply for the grant ($240,000-$250,000) and to use it for sewer line replacement for the SW quadrant of the city (W Waco, Dallas Sts, etc). Rocbert Silva, water dept head, consulted on this as the "most needed" repair to our system. Pipes are small, collapsed and generally 80-plus years old.
Duncan Disposal Contract fopr garbage collection- 2008-2009
I have not a lot to say about this except for that we discussed it at length and it is an exhausting subject. We are getting jacked, in my opinion, by a garbage service that is highly inefficient and priced as such. Our nearest landfill is in Presidio (we can't use Alipne's which is nearly full as it is). That is a 120 mile round-trip. Fuel costs are skyrocketing and we will have to shoulder those regardless. Duncan has been our garbage collection provider for a long time and doesn't want to have to have our contract go out for bid. It is my impression that they want us to sign a deal that's "good today, but not if we contact anyone else". They have stated that their price, if bidded out formally, will be much higher. As is, it's already a 60% plus ncrease over the last contract. We just raised rates (and they are HIGH) to cover costs last year. West Texas Disposal (who serves Alpine) seems to do a much better job of servicing their customers needs and wants, and also operates a bona fide recycling program. Their rates are higher than Duncan's per capita, and will be evene higher is they have to set up new service here. We are stuck, regardless. it is my opinion that city hall is ready to sign with Duncan now (for ease of contract, lower price and also because Duncan let us pay late interest free for the last year), but I just HATE this "here's our price- take it now, but if you bid it out, this price is off the table". Like a used car salesman. A bad way of doing business.
By the way, this is my opinion and may not reflect facts altogether accurately. This is an emotional issue for me as I see rates going higher for all of us, and I know that those who can least afford it will really be hurting.
The conclusion of our discussion was that we would solicit informal rates from West Texas Disposal to see how they compare and buy us some time.
Somebody PLEASE! form a group that can get us a local landfill and landfill permit! You will make a profit and we will use you!
Next, Big Bend Community Action requested permission to use the MAC building parking lot for a bus stop for their new commuter service to nneighboring cities and Midland/Odessa. After discussion, we opted to give permission for 10 parking spaces and a bus stop for their vans as long as they took care of trash with a trash can and pickup of same. Manny and I voted yes, Scott May abstained based on his 'Marfa Flyer" business, but stated his support.