Devine City Council waives engineering requirement, fine

The Devine City Council voted unanimously to waive wind bracing plans for three upcoming HOME program houses, and waived a $200 fine that had been assessed to a customer in the Regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
HOME program
The HOME program, run through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides grants to states and communities to fund the construction, purchase, or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income people.
A number of HOME program houses have been constructed in Devine in recent years, with homes on Tilley Dr., Crouch Ave., and Bowman Ave. soon to join the ranks.
Code Compliance officer Eddie Diaz informed Council that Bureau Veritas, the company that handles inspections for the City, required an engineered wind bracing plan for the houses.
According to City Administrator/Secretary Dora Rodriguez, Bureau Veritas hadn’t required wind bracing plans for the HOME program houses built last year. Diaz added that the cost of the plans hadn’t been figured into the contractor’s budget.
“If we grant this waiver, is Bureau Veritas going to be mad?” Mayor Bill Herring asked.
“They want it to be on us,” Rodriguez said.
Councilman Cory Thompson, who is in the construction business, pointed out that the HOME program houses built last year seem fine and waiving the requirement shouldn’t be an issue.
A David Espinosa – Steve Lopez motion to waive the requirement for the wind bracing place for the HOME program houses passed 5-0, with Thompson, Jennifer Schott, and David Valdez all voting for the motion.
Waived fee
When a water line was inadvertently broken at her home, Devine resident Lynda Center asked a neighbor to turn off the water meter at her meter box to try and stop the leak. City workers were able to repair the broken line, but because the leak occurred on the City’s side, the water leaked for 10 hours before the repairs were complete.
Center was billed for $181.30 (the cost of materials, labor, and water loss), and was also assessed a $200 fine for tampering with her water meter. Center didn’t dispute the bill, just the $200 fine.
The City initially approved an Ordinance fining people for tampering with their meter boxes because of customers turning their water back on after having it shut off for non-payment, and occasionally breaking the meters, which Public Works Director Ismael Carrillo said cost around $250 each.
City Attorney Tom Cate read the Ordinance, which specified the fine was for tampering with a water meter, not for turning water off.
“The Ordinance was not designed to address situations such as this,” Cate said. “It was designed for when people are stealing [water].”
An Espinosa-Lopez motion to waive the fine passed 5-0.
Golf Course
A Lopez-Schott motion to approve the placement of a Security State Bank ATM at the golf course passed 5-0. The bank will be responsible for operating and maintaining the ATM, including handling any customer issues that may arise.
Rodriguez also informed Council that because three of the workers in the clubhouse were attending college and had limited and unpredictable schedules, the City needed to hire additional part-time workers to fill in the gaps. The amount of hours the City is paying won’t change.
An Espinosa-Thompson motion to hire more part-time employees passed 5-0.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer