The Lytle City Council met this past Monday night, December 13 to discuss many important matters including where they stand on generators, should they be needed this Winter. They also set a date to interview two candidates for the Finance Director position, and discussed closing part of a County Road that is located partially in city limits
Local Precinct changes
Atascosa County Commissioner Stuart Knowlton addressed Lytle council to discuss changes to the local precinct lines.
“We had an interesting Commissioner’s Court today. We approved the new voting precincts for the county. We previously approved the re-districting which caused us to lose about a 1/3 of the land mass territory…. and the reason for that is because of the growth in population,” Knowlton said.
He then presented council with new maps.
“The interesting part of this is not only did we re-district the county, we changed many of the voting boxes,” Commissioner said.
Council asked if Atascosa citizens can still vote anywhere in the county, and he answered yes.
“As a result of all these changes, the precinct 2 yard will be moved from Poteet to right where the JP 2 office was (on 3175). So all of our equipment will be moved and we will be building there in the next few months,” Commissioner Knowlton said. Additionally, he stated he hopes residents will be able to vote from that office in the future as well.
They discussed three bids on street repair. The lowest bidder for all of the streets was Fuquay, Inc who bid $227,095, the next was $234,565 by Clark Construction, who did the last two paving projects for the City, and J&P bid $243,842.
Emery suggested following up on references on the lowest bidder since it’s a new contractor who has never done work for the City before. He also added if there is a preferred time of year to do this road work. Mayor Gonzalez answered that the preferred time is the warmer months.
The council voted to table this item until January.
Next, Council discussed acting upon choosing an auditing firm for next year. Campa recommended sticking with the firm used last year, Armstrong Vauhn and Associates. She noted that the cost would be approximately $30,000 per year. Council voted to move forward with Armstrong Vauhn and Associates.
Cross Country Teams Recognized
Mayor Gonzalez first thanked parents and coaches for their outstanding dedication to these athletes and to the cross country program.
Josie Campa read a proclamation recognizing the amazing accomplishments by the Lady Pirate and Pirate Cross Country teams.
The proclamation notes that while the Lytle Lady Pirates were not state-ranked team this year, they defied all odds and went onto capture the District 28-3A Championship and Regional Championship, and placed 4th at State.
This Group of Lady Pirates was also the first Regional Championship team in school history and competed at the state level for the first time! Team members were Jaydyn Bojorquez, Moriah Gomez, Eisabel Guerrero, Marissa Lopez, Dezmarie Ortega, Natalie Williams, and Samantha Mujica.
The Boy’s Pirate team was recognized next. They were ranked 6th in the state, and despite injuries, went on to win their 4th consecutive 28-3A District Championship, and received 2nd at Regionals and 3rd at State. This was their 4th visit at the state level. Team members were Runners Jared Aguinaga, Israel Andrade, Jose Cortez, Robert Wagner, Brandon Obando Abel Sanchez, Johnny Rey Sanchez. The proclamation notes that Senior Jose Cortez was the first Lytle athlete to represent a team at all four state events 2018-2021. This year was the 3rd straight appearance for Wagner, and the second for Obando and Sanchez.
Mayor Gonzalez offered congratulations, thanking the runners, coaches and parents for joining the meeting, noting “The council unanimously wanted to do this, and say our thanks…to thank you all personally as we pass this ordinance.”
Council voted to rename Easy Street to Ruiz-Foster Way in honor of Cross Country Coaches Ruiz and Foster, who have led their teams to one accomplishment after another in recent years.
Council discussed and voted to pursue and gather more information about the procurement of a new digital sign for the City of Lytle.
“There are two purposes of this sign, to advertise, and also for notifications to our citizens….so it’s important for us to take into consideration the location,” Mayor Gonzalez said.
Councilman Emery led the discussion on the small business grant program offered to city businesses affected by Covid. Due to few eligible businesses seeking out this opportunity, approximately $17,300 is left over.
“So my question is what do we want to do with that money? …I think we need to put it somewhere where it’s going to do the most good for the most businesses in town,” Councilman Emery stated.
They took no action on the matter at this time, and Councilman Emery stated, “I encourage everyone in the council and the chamber to give me a call if you have any ideas.”
Council voted to go out for bids on maintenance of city properties, amending it not to include the PD.
Chief Priest voiced that they would rather do the lawn maintenance at the PD themselves because it’s only a small yard.
“We would like to be removed from this bid. We’ve constantly got weeds 2-3 feet tall…..It’s easier for me to just take care of business ourselves,” Priest said. “I think all of us at the PD agree on that. I can take care of it in 20 minutes.”
The council discussed various options on re-districting, while trying to take into account areas of impending growth as well. Many frustrations were expressed, and council agreed that the item could not be acted upon until after another public hearing takes place.
“I think we need to open this back up to a public hearing, and after input from the public, we will have a special meeting again to vote on this,” Emery said.
“Charles, in Plan D, I see that most of my constituents are no longer in my district. Why is that?” Councilman Emery asked.
Councilman Cate, via Zoom, answered that he believes most of the new sidewalk project lies within district 5 (of the proposed map) and he worked hard on that project, so he stated he would like to represent the residents in that zone that will be most affected by the new sidewalks.
Emery noted, “Those sidewalks will benefit the whole city, and I do not see why a councilman from another district cannot head a project in another district if it benefits the whole city.” He went on to add, “I am not real keen on the idea of losing most of my constituents that I have represented over the past year.”
After much discussion, council agreed to reconsider Plans A-D, and hold another public hearing and special meeting in January regarding the matter before making a selection.
Attorney Cate noted that “We need to take our time and get this right.”
They agreed to set a public hearing on Wednesday January 5thwith a special meeting afterwards to make a decision.
Animal Control Tech
Santiago Morantez asked for permission to advertise for a part-time kennel tech for animal control as a former employee resigned as of December 4. Council approved to advertise for this position.
Rabies Control Authority
Council discussed who is or will be the official Rabies Control Authority. There was some confusion if it fell in the arena of the PD or the Animal Control department, and after some discussion, Attorney Cate noted that it does fall to the Animal Control Director Santiago Moranatez.
“Based on the occurrence that recently happened” Mayor Gonzalez introduced the topic of making sure the City Rabies Control Authority was established.
After some discussion, Mayor Gonzalez stated, “Sante you as a department head, you would have the responsibility to make that call….Even if another tech has a situation…..So in looking at that other situation it becomes very critical that communication happens, and you can make a determination of what to do at that point.”
Morantez stepped up and noted that he would be signing up for training in January to be best informed about all of the rabies protocols, to be better prepared.
Fire Inspector recommended
Fire Marshall Richey Priest recommended David Garica as a fire inspector, to help out especially with the growth coming in.
Council voted to install one new street light and to repair one street light near the entrance of Coal Mine community on Hwy 132.
CR 6843 Closure Discussion
Council discussed closing CR 6843 where illegal dumping commonly takes place. The road is partially in the City and partially in Medina County.
“Sam and I reached out to Commissioner Lynch to see how he feels, and he commented we can go as far as we can, even into the county area, without prohibiting access to properties,” Mayor Gonzalez said.
“If you are not familiar with that area, the road is very steep and narrow and when it’s rainy it’s slippery. We have had multiple vehicles slip off the road,” Chief Priest said.
They then discussed cleaning up the area before they shut it down, and someone asked if any of the property owners had been contacted, to which the response was no.
“Maybe it will help with dumping, or maybe they will just go dump further up,” Attorney Cate commented. “But we have to coordinate with the County because part of that road is not in our jurisdiction.”
Councilman Cate moved that they close the portion of the road located in City limits and approach the County about closing the portion of the road located in Medina County without preventing access of property owners to their land. The motion passed.
Councilman Emery stated the City received 9 applications for Finance Director, which he has sent out to council to consider in order to narrow down the candidates they want to interview.
Emery recommended inviting both Lannette Hester, of Castroville, and Marian Governor of Mississippi, for interviews by Zoom or in-person soon.
Councilman Cate recommended waiting until there were more applicants to consider.
“I do think we have some applicants to consider, and if we feel after the interviews that we need to re-advertise, we can do that at that point,” Mayor Gonzalez suggested.
Cate then asked who all would be sitting in on the meetings. Emery answered the entire council would be invited. Cate then stated he wouldn’t be back in town until the 18th at 6 pm, so he would like to wait until he is back to conduct interviews.
Council then decided to interview the candidates on Monday, December 20 at 6:30 pm.
Mayor Gonzalez brought up the discussion of setting up a contract for generators to prepare for Winter storms. He stated that companies no longer want to reserve generators for municipalities.
Mayor Gonzales stated, “Gravity is a company that offered to work with us….If James tells us by looking at the weather that hey guess what we need to get some generators and bring them on site. We can actually go retrieve the generators. We give them a call and bring the generators in and place them where we need them. They will charge $125 just to let it sit there. If we need to turn them on, at that point it goes from $125 to $250 a day with the usage. That does not include the diesel that we’ll need to use them. If we did need them to deliver, the charge would be $175, but we do have the type of vehicle for us to be able to bring it over here…..These guys can’t give us a priority, but they basically put us on a list, and if it looks like the weather is going to turn, we give them a call and based on our credit already being pre-approved they give us the thumbs up to come and get them.”
Gravity is located in Charlotte.
“So Mayor, we still have no guarantee, because we are going to be in line with everyone else who calls?” Chief Priest asked.
“Right, but our credit is pre-approved by having this taken care of,” Mayor Gonzalez said.
“So we have a little edge?” Richey asked to which Mayor agreed.
“We have very little option. If you try to buy a generator right now of this capacity, we are looking at 8-12 months out,” Mayor Gonzalez said.
Councilman Cate asked “What is the price tag of these generators?…If we get into it, and we need one or two generators…..and we have no guarantees, that doesn’t do us a lot of good.”
“It depends on if you are looking at a stationary generator or a generator on a trailer, but you’re looking at a few hundred thousand dollars to purchase one,” Mayor Gonzalez said.
“That might be something we need to look at, because a good generator is going to last you a decade,” Cate said.
“We did talk about that at budget time, and I think what we decided is to look at that next year and at grants for opportunities,” Mayor added.
Regarding the water line repair on Wisdom Road, which has been discussed at previous meetings, Public Works Director James McGrath stated, “I spoke to the engineer, and he stated we do not need to get this re-bid,” and estimated that the project should be under $20K.
“We’ve all seen the pictures, and we know what it looks like, and we need to get it taken care of sooner than later,” Mayor Gonzalez commented additionally.
Attorney Cate suggested adding a cut-off valve closer to the site of the work, so that if something goes wrong it doesn’t cut off homes all the way back to Lake Street.
McGrath suggested he could see what a valve and installation would add to the total cost. Campa commented she worried that by adding a cut-off valve it might raise the cost over $20K which would require a different restriction to the construction process.
Attorney Cate commented, “I realize it’s something that needs to get done, but it’s something that has needed to be done a long time…..We are in a bad situation (noting the responsibility that falls on the City if something happens).”
Council made a motion to move forward with the repair job, and an additional shut off valve, if they can keep the project under $20,000.
Nominations for Citizenship Award
Mayor Gonzalez asked to table the nominations for the Annual Lytle Citizenship Award until the first regular meeting in January.
Matt Dear was appointed the RPIC for the sidewalk grant as the grant required that a full-time employee handle this. Chief Priest noted that he thinks Dear would be good for this position, though it may require a little overtime to juggle his regular responsibilities with this position.
Bonfire Dec 16
Chief Priest announced that the school will have a bonfire on December 16th, an event that was rescheduled from homecoming, unless there is any complication with windy weather.
Construction coming up
Mayor Gonzales reminded Lytle citizens of upcoming construction that will be underway by TxDot on the I-35 frontage road. It’s slotted to begin this January.
“Be prepared that the road is going to become a one-way as they work on one side of the road and then swap to the other,” Mayor Gonzalez noted.
“The project is supposed to be 280 days long. They are going to widen the roads and add sidewalks from FM 2790 to all the way to 3175.”
By Kayleen Holder