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City to move forward with new water well

City to move forward with new water well
La Vernia Code Enforcement Officer Janet Thelen (from left) visits with city councilmen Eloi Cormier and Marie Gerlich March 14, prior to a meeting of the La Vernia City Council.

LA VERNIA The city is moving ahead with its much-delayed municipal well project, and Well No. 6 could be a reality within a year, following a decision by the La Vernia City Council during its March 14 regular meeting.

“After much deliberation, I think we have a path we can afford,” Mayor Robert Gregory said, introducing the matter.

La Vernia was approved for federal grant funds for a new municipal well in 2010. Engineering and planning issues have plagued the project, which grew at one point to encompass not only a new well, but possible remediation of an existing well. The city has been dependent upon purchased water from the Canyon Regional Water Authority to provide adequate supplies to municipal customers during the last several years, while the area has been suffering drought.

Gregory allayed concerns the federal grant funds may have been affected by the current sequestration of funding.

“This grant was already approved and the money set aside,” he told the council. “Our grant money is there. We have until the end of December to use it.”

Councilman Randy Leonard, who has worked on the project since its early days, said that the numbers he’s discussed with engineers and others related to the project should still allow the well to be drilled and maintained without raising water rates.

“We’re looking at approximately $1.4 million, with 20 percent contingency included for money for well maintenance,” Leonard said. “We’ve got $485,000 in grant money. Even if we have to borrow some money, water rates will still not go up. We should still have a profit in the water department.”

He added that the well should be complete within nine months of bid documents being executed.

Leonard and councilmen Marie Gerlich, Eloi Cormier, Bobby Richter, and John Richter voted unanimously to move forward with drilling Well No. 6, utilizing Southwest Engineering.

In other business, the council approved:

¢A drive-through lane for the end-cap tenant at La Vernia Crossing, Lot 6, Block 1. This was approved on speculation, as there is no tenant for the property yet.

¢Amendments to the city’s storm water management code to limit the amount of impervious ground cover. The city’s planning and zoning commission had recommended a tiered system, which met with unanimous approval.

¢Amendments to the city’s ordinance regarding off-street parking and loading requirements, to set the size of parking spaces at 10 feet by 18 feet, instead of the previous 10 feet by 20 feet, based on advice from engineers.

¢Amending the city code for late-hour licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages to include a mixed-beverages late hours permit. This was requested by Cowgirls Unlimited, a catering business based in La Vernia, but allows for opportunities by future businesses as the city grows, the council determined.

¢Pay scales for all city employees. Police department pay begins at $15.81 per hour for basic certification; city landscaper pay starts at $10.50 per hour; and pay for the municipal clerk will start at $15.29 per hour. The municipal development district (MDD) director’s pay scale is $38,000 to $48,000; salary for the city secretary’s position is set at $32,000 to $42,000. Currently, the MDD director’s pay is $41,995.20 and the city secretary-treasurer is paid $39,208.

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