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Section A: General News


Council discusses water, wells, zoning


Council discusses water, wells, zoning
Elmendorf Mayor Manuel Decena Jr. swears in aldermen Thomas Hicks (left) and Richard Rodriguez at the start of the June 13 council meeting.


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Wilson County News
June 19, 2013
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ELMENDORF -- Following the regular city council meeting June 13, residents in Elmendorf can expect to see an increase soon in their water bills.

Aldermen Linda Peña Ortiz, Thomas Hicks, and Richard Rodriguez were in unanimous agreement last Thursday evening as they approved an amendment to the ordinance known as the City of Elmendorf Water Tariff. The increase is the second step in a two-part process to put customer rates back on track with the increases that have been passed on to the city by the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).

Since 2008, the SAWS rates have steadily increased, but Elmendorf absorbed much of the costs. By 2012, the rates had increased by 18 percent. Because the council did not want to burden residents with an 18-percent rate increase at once, the city’s leaders agreed to a 10-percent increase last year, with an additional 8 percent increase this year. The amount agreed upon during the meeting is not an 8 percent increase over current rates, but rather the remainder of the 18 percent as related to 2008.

City Administrator Cody Dailey did not have numbers to show how an average water bill would be impacted, but said the new rate will increase the minimum fee from $36.96 to $39.65 -- an increase of just over 7.2 percent.

The amendment also substantially increased rates for those buying water in bulk from the city, though Dailey confirmed there are not many of these customers. The rate for bulk customers will increase by nearly four times, from $4 per 1,000 gallons to $15 per 1,000 gallons. According to Dailey and City Attorney Mike Guevara, however, this is still on par with cities of a similar size and demographic.

In a related agenda item, the council unanimously approved a new ordinance, providing specifications for the drilling and construction of water wells within the city limits. In a move said to have public safety in mind, the new ordinance prohibits the use of wells to supply homes within the city limits. Any wells drilled within the city can be used only for irrigation purposes. The ordinance also sets a fee schedule for permits, with a minimum fee of $50.

In a move to keep pace with the influx of businesses to the area, the council agreed to have Guevara continue with creating a zoning ordinance for the city. In addition, a Planning & Zoning Commission and a Board of Adjustments will be formed to oversee zoning regulations.

The principal concern was that without a zoning ordinance, large industrial buildings potentially could be established in the middle of town. Dailey said the city is behind the times in not having such an ordinance, and is pleased to see the council taking steps toward creating one.

In other business: the council:

•Selected Rodriguez as the city’s mayor pro tem once again, despite the long-standing practice of choosing a new person each time.

•Agreed to hire De La Garza Fencing to construct a wooden privacy fence at the cost of $7,325 at the new city hall.

•Granted resident Jose Esquivel six months to build an addition onto his home, thereby increasing its square footage and bringing it into ordinance compliance. Esquivel is to report his progress to the council every 60 days.

•Authorized Dailey to enter into a contract with AT&T for telephone and Internet services at the new city hall building.

•Approved a budget amendment for the purchase of a new database software program for the police department. Rodriguez voted in opposition, stating the cost was too great.

In attendance: Mayor Manuel Decena and councilmen Linda Peña Ortiz, Thomas Hicks, and Richard Rodriguez; City Administrator Cody Dailey, City Secretary Roxanne De Leon, City Attorney Michael Guevara; Elmendorf Police Chief Michael Pimentel and Sgt. David Rios.
 

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