Council interviewed one CM candidate Monday

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The Alice City Council took the next step toward beginning a new project to repair the city's water and wastewater infrastructure, by selecting a method for repaying the $9.6 million bond voters approved to fund the project.

Under the terms of the debt service scenario selected by the council, the repayment method will be 100 percent self-supported through water rate increases and supplements from sales tax revenue. The repayment period is set at 20 years, and the first funds are expected to be available by September.

The council voted to table a recommendation from city staff to temporarily adjust the Salary Equity Plan for the Public Works Department.

The request was made to allow the department to increase the offered salaries for employees with commercial driver's licenses in order to compete with higher wages offered by oil field companies.

Interim City Manager Ruben Maldonado also presented a proposed contract with former Alice City Manager Gonzalo Chapa Jr. to allow Chapa to conduct a comprehensive study of the city's organizational structure and to present proposed changes that Maldonado said could save the city more than $100,000 a year. Council member Leo Escobar introduced a motion to accept the contract, but his motion died for lack of a second.

The council approved an item authorizing the company AP Land Services, Inc. to conduct seismic surveying operations in and near the city for the purpose of finding oil and natural gas.

A presentation by an outside engineer regarding the potential risks of the surveying project was cancelled when the engineer was unable to attend the meeting because of illness.

The council also approved the one-time monetary payment of $3,150 to the company Carbo Ceramics in support of their efforts to expand their operations into the city of Alice. Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Dean Kruckenberg told the council the $3,150 is equal to one half of the amount of taxes the Jim Wells County Appraisal District estimates the company will bring to the city and county in its first year of operation. Kruckenberg recommended the city, in combination with a matching amount from the county, provide the company with the monetary funds as an incentive to move into the city.

The council approved a request from the Alice Hispanic Heritage Committee for use of the City Hall and chamber of commerce parking lots, as well as the closure of several streets downtown and the use of portable fencing and stages for the Hispanic Heritage Festival. The festival is scheduled for Sept. 7 and 8.

The council also approved the renewal of an inmate housing agreement between the City of Alice and Jim Wells County for the housing of prisoners arrested by the city.

In other law enforcement business, the council renewed an interlocal agreement between the City of Alice, the City of Orange Grove, the City of Premont and Jim Wells County for a joint task force, and voted to re-adopt an ordinance to impose a fine on juveniles who break curfew.

The council accepted the resignation of Aravela Hernandez from the Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals and voted to place Nena Pitts as her replacement on the board.

The council tabled an item to hear a presentation from USDA Rural Development Manager Jake Sheeran regarding upcoming funding opportunities.

In other business, the council interviewed Florencio Sauceda as a candidate for the open city manager position. A scheduled interview with Scott Albert was cancelled when Albert withdrew his name from consideration after he accepted a position with another city.

More interviews are scheduled for a special meeting tonight.