On February 28th at 6:30pm, the Lytle City Council began with the pledge of allegiance. Everyone was present for the meeting including Joseph Morrow, Alderman District 1; Sam Cortez, Alderman District 2; David Emery, Alderman District 3; Jerry Stone, Alderman of District 4; Charles Cate, Alderman District 5 and Mayor Ruben Gonzalez. The meeting included the approval of the issuance of certificates of obligation, discussions on establishing Internet access at the Community Center and the potential to aid Lytle citizens in fixing a warring road.
Certificates Of Obligation
The court started with the first item on the agenda, discussing the issuance of certificates of obligation based upon the recommendations made by the city’s engineer and financial advisors for funding necessary infrastructure projects.
Andrew Friedman, with SAMCO Capital Markets, the City Financial Advisor led the conversation and presented the council with the recommendations.
“If we want to proceed with the issuance of obligation, I need to get a list of the priorities of various projects and their costs,” Friedman said.“From there we can pull together the financial analysis in concert with Jeff and his firms, numbers to come up with the plan to repay that debt, make sure all the facts are lining up and once we’ve settled upon that I would propose that we bring forward to you all a notice of intention resolution which is the first legal step to kicking off the issuance of certificate of obligation.”
Friedman explained that that ‘kick off’ would probably occur somewhere during their May or June City Council meeting. The passage of notice of intention resolution would take roughly 90 days before the city would receive their funds and Friedman predicted that part of the process would take place around summer.
“So, there’s a lot to determine between now and then but that’s generally the timeline and there are still some gaps of information we need to flesh out in order to proceed,” Friedman said.
Mayor Ruben Gonzalez added to this saying the council were currently looking for opportunities to put on their potential list with any current partners to the city; Charles Cate backed this sentiment.
“I mean, I know we also have some other items on the agenda dealing with funding as well, but like Andrew was telling us we can include those as well to get what the city needs, what the residents and businesses need,” Cate said. “So I would move to table this item until the first meeting in March until we get a list of all our priorities from city.”
Proposal For New Signage
After the approval of the issuance of certificates the council then moved on to discuss a proposal from the Lytle Chamber of Commerce for the possible purchase, installation and maintenance of a digital sign to replace the current city signage for the city of Lytle.
Brad Beazer acted as the representative for Chamber of Commerce.
While the council had originally been looking into purchasing a 4×8 sign, they were now looking into shifting their attentions toward a larger, 5×10 board instead. But concerned about costs slipping above $50,000 in cost which would force them to have to put the purchase put for bids instead, so the council searched for ways to lower the cost and potential ways to avoid the bidding process.
“If they (the Lytle Chamber) are members of BuyBoard, it would probably bring the price down considerably to where we wouldn’t have to go out for bids,” Josie Campa, City Secretary, said.“And if they’re not a member they can pay to become a member.”
BuyBoard is one of several cooperatives that Lytle City could purchase the sign through. Buying from a member of a cooperative not only allows the city to go over $50,000 in purchasing value, but would cut the bidding process out entirely and potentially get them their sign at a reduced price.
The council then moved to approve that they go through with purchasing the 5×10 board, contingent on whether the cost does not exceed $60,000 and they go through BuyBoard.
With the future of the new sign placed in the hands of the Chamber making a connection with BuyBoard, the council moved on to approve the proposal about the potential installation of awnings on bleachers at the T-ball field in John Lott municipal Park.
Cody Davenport stepped up to represent the project and began to click through his presentation, starting off with a general update on his consultation with the building inspector to okay their awnings use by the public. This consultation was personally requested by the council the last meeting Davenport attended along with the request to come back with an idea for t-ball awning and information on the potential for community contributions.
“After I spoke with Mr. Martin (the consultant), he said that whatever we do to make sure that we over engineer everything,” Davenport said. “He says that they (the awnings) need to be able to withstand at least a 90mph wind. So we went ahead and came back and decided we’re going to put two more upright posts and a cross beam in the middle so that there’s no question about it, that it’s going to be plenty strong to withstand the wind and we’re not gonna have any issues.”
Davenport then went on to go over the costs this process would bring to them and the city, stating that it had gone up since the last meeting and Davenport’s main goal was to have the council approve the new amount.
“So with that being said, you’re going to notice we also went from 14 gauge to 11 gauges on the post so there is an additional cost with that,” Davenport said.“So the original quote was $3,700 and it bumped up to about $4,800 for the thicker material and more material as well.”
Davenport said that in addition to gold and black contribution signs and fuel charges for the equipment they would be using for constructions such as welders and bobcats, the total cost of the project would come out to $5,616. This would be an additional $2,000 to the $3,700 limit the city originally set aside to help fund the project.
Seeing that the city had $10,000 put aside in capital improvements for the park still available for the year, the council approved the new sum of $5,616 sending Davenport off with the suggestion to make sure that rain water levels and possible flooding issues to be taken into account in the next step.
“The water shed is going to be towards the back of the structures and they’re going to be a three inch drop from the front to the back to make sure it’s all up to code compliance,” Davenport said.
Little League Storage Shed Aspirations
A discussion was then held on the possible approval of the use of funds from the remaining business grants for the purchase of a storage shed to be leased to the Lytle Little League; Anthony Reyna stood up and took lead of the conversation.
“So where we last left off this thing evolved from just a 12×10 storage shed that we were requesting into a full-blown ‘hey, what can we do that’s bigger and better, right?’” Reyna said. “So from that point to today I did little research.”
The representative then relayed how he had started to do some research starting with the website: generalsteel.com.
“First place I started,” Reyna said. “They had something called a barndominium, it’s like a multi purpose facility. So this basically gives you an idea of what we’re looking at. This is a 45×70 structure; it has a place for storage, a place for you to have a concession stand… I call it the SOC, so storage, office, concession stand.”
Reyna continued, saying that he also spoke to a general contractor at Lights Out Welding who came up with an idea for him on the fly about turning part of the building into storage for some type of vehicle to use across the park and adding some storage cages for equipment in another part.
“We also talked about a concession stand area and then he said ‘hey, you know we did something very similar for the City of Gonzalez and they went a step further and they thought it might be useful for the city to rent out for another source of revenue stream,’” Reyna said.“I didn’t think about that, but it made sense.”
Reyna also added that he also called waste management and let them know about their potential structure and was told that since (Little League) a non-profit organization once they find their prices and estimates for what they’re going to put into the structure they could easily have the idea through and see what they can do.
“That was one phone call, one conversation, but I feel like now I need your guys guidance on where do we go from here,” Reyna said. “This is basically just to get the conversation started. I think what we’re seeing here is probably going to cost a pretty penny. It’s going to take, I would say, a committee because I don’t think this a one-man show… It’s kinda like drinking from a fire hydrant with all this information I’m giving you. I think what I’m asking for first and foremost is to approve the use of funds for this effort.”
Without a current ’ballpark’ figure for the project, Reyna is looking for a way to move forward, saying that figure will ultimately come from those who are a part of the committee as they’ll be the stakeholders in the project. Whether these committee members are from the community, the league or the council itself will affect this number he’s ultimately looking for.
“My question to you is then: We’re talking about committees, we’re talking about having your prices and all this stuff, is that going to take care of y’all needing the storage space now?” Campa said.
Answering ‘no,’ Reyna explained that they were in season, so with the equipment currently distributed, there would be no storage issues for at least the next three months and that just going with the original 12×10 storage plan to hold them over, would be ‘low hanging fruit.’”
“But this is, like I said, it’s evolved and so we’ve made do with where we are right now,” Reyna said. “There’s been equipment in my garage, there’s been equipment in other’s garage, but we make do and if it means we make do for however long it takes to build something like this, I think we can wait.”
Adding his concerns to the conversation, Alderman Cate relayed his worry about potential money waste to the council.
“So yeah, I mean that was my concern,” Alderman Cate said.“You’re gonna outgrow that. You’ve already outgrown that 120 square foot storage shed, so it’s like we’re just flushing money down whenever we can put it forward.”
Campa then followed this up, bringing up the fact that the city was still growing.
“I would like to throw something out to council,” Campa said. “When we were just talking about certificates of obligation earlier, we talked about how this city is going to grow with all these new homes coming in. We won’t have enough ball fields at the park right now to serve what we’ve got. We’ve got land out there by well number 3; maybe we ought to consider doing something with ball fields there? I mean, we’re going to more than double the population in three to four years and we better start thinking ball fields now.”
Choosing to help with the construction of a committee before moving forward, Alderman Sam Cortez was placed in charge of aiding Reyna with coming together with concepts and designing the proposal.
Ball Road Request
Following this approval, Dennis Barringer and his wife visited the city council that night to talk about the issues they were experiencing with the road sitting in front of their home, Ball Road. Owning two parcels of property on the road since 2020, the Barringers had moved down to Lytle from Illinois in January with the intention of making the city their home, but ran into concerns.
“The concern with the road that we had is it seems to be worn down to the very base, there’s just nothing left to much of the road,” Barringer said. “There are some very large rocks in the road. Yay size.”
Barringer put his hands together, touching the tips of his forefingers and thumbs together to make a large circle and held them up to the council in example and explained how the rocks only covered some sections of the road, but still helped in making it difficult to drive.
“You can’t travel the road at a normal speed,” Barringer said. “Especially to protect your vehicle, so you need to drive slower than normal. But our concern is, as all of you know, seconds count when there is an emergency…So getting to someone on that road is going to slow things up a bit. And on the reverse side, if you’re a person being taken out on that road it can be a pretty rough ordeal. So what we’re asking of the council, is that you will allocate funds to either bring in truckloads of gravel in to build and gravel the entire road back up or to pave it. Whichever the council decides would be the most cost effective in the long run for the tax dollars for the city.”
Discussing how to potentially address the presented issues with the road it was pointed out that the road was owned by Bexar Medina Atascosa (BMA) and didn’t belong to Lytle nor was it a private road. The rights to the 50-foot easement Ball Road sits on are owned by BMA, and part of the property itself belongs to the homeowners located on the east side of the street, leaving the council in a complicated situation.
Tom Cate, City Attorney, emphasized this complication by relaying the history of Ball Road and its ongoing discussion of repair to the council.
“BMA told us they didn’t care if we went in there and paved it, if you want to pave it,” Cate said. “…Last time we talked about doing something here was in April the 12th of 2012, and at the time, there was motion that Ball Road would be put on hold until ‘the spoils are removed and agreements with all the property owners were received’ about paving this road.”
There are around 8 homes along Ball Road.
When asked if there was a way to get BMA to release the easement, it was explained they would have to be paid probably and wanting to avoid that option, the council considered retreading old options and attempting to have the current property owners agree on the solution again.
Following this, the council brought in the issue of possibly having to hire an engineer for the job to properly address potential flooding issues.
“Basically the road is 12 inches below the property on both sides,” Bob Roberts, Jr. Manager at Lytle Propane said. “That’s one of the reasons why the gravel hasn’t worked for the last 20 years, because the more and more gravel you put in there, it looks really nice, but when it rains and all the water comes down it goes right down the middle of the road…it just washes all the gravel away…and so without building up the road I’m afraid to say, even if you paved it, without proper drainage, x number of feet away from the pavement to do it. That’s been the issue all along…”
On top of this problem, came the problem of where the money for the fixes would come from, as the city would not be asking the residents living along the street to pay, only to make a decision on how to address the problem. A large portion of the road sits in Bexar County, while a smaller portion sits in Atascosa leaving the money question trapped between two counties and waiting for an engineer.
“So we’ve all known that anytime we’re gonna go ask for money or we’re gonna go ask for help from the county or anything, one of the things they want to understand is the engineering portion of it,” Mayor Gonzalez said. “So I think it’ll probably be good for us to at least get that done so we have an idea, and then we’ve got to figure out the source of money whether we’re maybe talking to Bexar County or their commissioner about it.”
Unsure of what the council will do further down the line, the council still pushed ahead with plans of hiring an engineer to do a study that will address the issues properly.
Private Email Transfer To City
Next the council approved the usage of City E-mail accounts as primary means of communication and discontinued the usage of personal e-mails for city business.
Considering personal emails such as Gmail, yahoo, and so on are often insecure and open to sabotage, the city made the move to have all city staff move their work and data from those personal emails to LytleTx ones instead.
This would allow easier moderation from Microsoft to protect the personal data being sent through them.
“…Transitioning everything to LytleTx domain will allow all the other security practices and protocols and safety measures to be implemented and that means permanent archiving, that means due diligence research, that means anything the city wants to do going forward for requests for public information or whatnot,” John, a representative said. “You’ll have one avenue to do that through under the Microsoft umbrella.”
Community Center Internet
Still speaking with John the council shifted their focus towards upon establishing Internet access at community center. “Also several months ago we were asked to look at providers for Internet access at the community centers.
“Initially the idea was for any emergency services that had happened at the community center, we wanted some kind of transport to be available so that if there were more than 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 people there then there would be Internet access provided to a group of people under those emergency services,” John said.“So the second part of that is that we wanted it to be a different provider than AT&T so that if an AT&T circuit was cut the community center would still have Internet access through some other means.”
John explained that initially they received a bid from another provider, Comm Zoom, who gave them costs somewhere around $3,500 for construction of necessary equipment and an ongoing cost of $150 a month for 50 by 8 megs of bandwidth coverage. But during the process Comm Zoom’s prices changed based on the scope of the job, upping their cost to $16,500. Now comparing them to AT&T, Comm Zoom no longer seemed like the best option. Mayor Gonzalez notes that the change in estimated price is largely because the cable would now need to be buried underground because there was no more room on the utility pole that was proposed for use at the time of the original quote.
“…going back to AT&T for a similar upload speed of 50 meg over a 36-month period those costs are almost identical, but a little higher for the other provider than AT&T by about a thousand over a 36-month period,” John said.“So now the question is the upfront cost to go with a cable provider to a community center is $17,000 dollars plus additional onboarding fees. Versus the monthly from AT&T somewhere in the vicinity of $580 and that transport would be a 50 meg by 50 meg. 50 meg down by 50 meg up. The transport from your cable provider (Comm Zoom) would be 50 meg down by 8 meg up.”
With that being said John recommended Lytle go with AT&T from a data and emergency services perspective, presenting the potential pros and cons of the decision to the council.
“…The con is if some connection gets cut somewhere else in the city for AT&T it’s very possible the community center will also lose Internet,” John said. “The pro is the transport itself. The bandwidth available in case of an emergency is way beyond what the cable provider (Comm Zoom) could do. It’s synchronous at 50 by 50 and that’s what you want in an emergency scenario.”
John stated that alongside this, for a 36-month agreement AT&T is offering the same discount for their current 24-month agreement with the city.
“So if there was a plan B and I was going to offer, I’d say well we only have to commit for 24 months to come back and revisit if there was another chance of a third provider or even come to them again, revisiting it and we wouldn’t be under a 36 month commitment. We could do 24 months and the cost would basically stay the same.”
With the cost of paying for AT&T being estimated to be around $14,000 over two years, without the funds for the city to absorb the cost regardless the council instead considered tabling the item until they could add it into the budget for 2022, in May.
Emergency Management Plan Contract
Following this, Cumorah Eldredge was invited to present the contract for an emergency management plan. Seeing potential issues with the contract, Cate suggested that in his opinion the council should hold off on a decision until the contract was ‘cleaned up.’
“There were quite a few things in the proposed contract that needs to be cleaned up,” Cate said. “There’s an assumption that we’re going to know what we’re talking about with the annexes and there are things that need to be cleaned up. There’s a template, I mean, I understand what’s going on, but the template itself is not attached to the contract, the annexes are not attached, the annexes that were left off or omitted were not attached, so you really don’t know what you’re talking about as far as what we’re agreeing to.”
Eldredge then offered a counter.
“So getting access to the template is something that once I get an official email, then I will have access to the states template,” Elderage said. “These annexes, nothing is omitted, this is all for the basic plan. Once we get to the intermediate plan and the advanced plan, the other annexes come into play. So this is what it required to be a basic plan and the titles of each of the annexes are there.”
Cate then countered back, explaining to the council with an example of another contract they had experienced what his main issue was.
“They’re not attached,” Cate said. “It’s kind of like that one contract we had with that cable company. We had to go back in and had to look at everything that he was referring to. When you refer to something in the contract, I mean, I don’t think you should agree to it unless you know what you’re talking about. You need to have those annexes in front of you so you can talk about them.”
Alderman Cate questioned, “Whose plan (template) are we currently using right now on this? And what is wrong with Atascosa County’s emergency management plan?”
Some confusion rippled through the room as the council discussed whether or not the City of Lytle was meant to create their own unique Emergency Management plan or follow the plan of Atascosa County and follow a set template.
“Tony Rose told me today that the only time you need to have your own plan is if you’re getting an emergency management coordinator,” Alderman Cate said. “Say if we wanted to hire an emergency management coordinator. Then we need our own plan; otherwise we’re under Atascosa County’s. That’s what the district coordinator told me this afternoon…”
However, Mayor Gonzalez stated he also made calls and received the go ahead to create their own plan specifically for Lytle.
“I went out, I asked, I talked to the state, I talked to the county; they came back and they told me that we have to do our own here at the local level, the way we’re set up,” Mayor Gonzalez said. “That’s the reason why we included it in the budget when we did it in May, you know, last year and we said we need to go ahead and start going down this road. So that’s the reason that we established this. We’re at a point right now where we already have something in front of us and if we need to go ahead and correct it or we need to make some adjustments to make it work for us, then let’s go ahead and make the adjustments… But from my understanding, as your emergency management coordinator, that we need to have something at the local level and I’ve already talked to the other levels.”
Recommending that Lytle create their own unique plan, Elderage explained that with Lytle existing in three different counties there’s a chance confusion will occur during an emergency. They want to ensure they know where their help is coming from, where people need to be during an emergency and so on.
“I highly recommend it, when an emergency happens, regardless of how unique we think we are, we’ve already got to have our introductions made,” Elderage said. “We don’t want to be shaking hands the day hell breaks loose. By doing this, we’re ensuring we have those connections are already established.”
Ending the conversation with a vote of a approval, with one ‘nay’ from Alderman Charles Cate, the council moved forward with fixing any lack of clarity in the contract and made plans to return to the issue at a later date, and potentially start on the creation of a unique plan Emergency Management plan for Lytle city.
“It’s obvious that whether it’s at the county level, …or the way that we’re currently set up in the sense of having our own binder (plan), that we’re outdated, we’re not where we need to be and we need to get it fixed,” Mayor Gonzalez said.
Water and Wastewater Study
The council then moved on to approve the action of having water and wastewater rate study done for the City of Lytle.
Wanting to hire the rural water association because they offer a study for free to areas with less than 10k population, the council considered the current situation, what people were going through and will go through, hoping to take advantage of that before things potentially got worse.
The rural water study will take a look at the rate structure. However, the council discussed the growing water needs as the community grows.
“We need to be prepared to expand,” Mayor Gonzales commented in a short interview afterward. “An estimated 400 new homes will put us at 75% capacity, so at that point we need to expand and get the other water well up and going, in order to sustain the growth.”
Future certificates of obligation and water rates will be considered, as they gauge needed improvements.
Entering two closed sessions during the 9 p.m. period of the meeting the council had a Consultation with their attorney concerning cause No. 22-02-0062-CVA, Rachel Faish et al v. The City of Lytle et al pending litigation, pursuant to Section 551.071 Texas Government Code and made no action.
The second closed session on the consideration of entering into negotiations for the purchase of additional land for municipal purposes opened again with a motion being made to allow their attorney to negotiate on the additional land.
By Christian Toler