The Aspermont City Council met earlier this week, officially adopting this year’s budget and levying taxes at the tax rate of .585612. The council also accepted services for the annual financial audit and approved a resolution for a five-year hazard mitigation plan.
The council reviewed the engagement letter from Roberts & McGee, CPA out of Abilene, which outlined the outside auditing services and the overall cost. Each year, city municipalities must have a third party audit city finances for accountability and transparency. The cost to the city comes in at just over $13,000, well under the cities $14,000 budgeted amount.
The council also adopted a resolution, which addressed the fact that natural hazards have historically caused significant disasters with losses of life and property throughout the region. It also acknowledged the Federal Disaster Mitigation act of 2000 and FEMA require communities to adopt a hazard mitigation plan to be eligible for a full range of funding after any such disaster.
City Administrator Lorenzo Calamaco explained the plan largely outlines in the potential environmental hazards and what steps local governments have put in place to ease those hazards. He informed the Council how the city and County have worked with the West Central Texas County of Governments (COG) and their associates to address the needs of the city of Aspermont and Stonewall County as a whole.
The COG represents almost 20 counties and over 50 cities across the state and works with officials in each of those local governments to assure the plan is prepared correctly. COG has been gathering information from surrounding governments for the past two or three years to ensure jurisdictions maintain eligibility for a full range of funding opportunities.
Jay Hardaway with H2O Partners, Inc. has been working with the COG on the plan for more than two years and was on hand to speak with Stonewall officials earlier this month and was anticipated to speak during Tuesday’s council meeting but was unable to attend.
“It's a break the glass kind of emergency plan,” Hardaway said when speaking to county commissioners last week. “Something you don't really use unless you need it,” and explained how the plan covers potential hazards specific to local areas.
The plan focuses on such potential weather hazards across the region and possible steps to mitigate those hazards. If it rains too much in an area it could cause flooding. Conversely, too little rain could create a situation were wildfires might occur. In the Aspermont’s case, Calamaco said the two biggest concerns are with unstable soil and the possibility of wildfire.
Calamaco also updated the Council on recent operations, including the purchase of a new 2019 pickup. He said they just received the city decals, which will be applied in the upcoming days and will be in service around town soon.
This is good news, as the city has been dealing with numerous water leaks, on a daily basis, since the end of last week. He attributes much of the recent damage to hot arid weather, talking about how as the dry ground cracks and shifts, it puts pressure on the aging pipes causing them to break.
Additionally, the city's tool cat remains in the repair shop, “where it has been for the last two months,” said Calamaco. He said he continues to make numerous inquiries, but the company claimed the necessary wiring harness replacement was on backorder and could not confirm when the repairs could be made in the equipment be put back into service.
Lastly, the council touched upon some legislative updates to the Texas Open Meetings Act. Calamaco said he would be discussing the update with the city's attorney and to create local policy updates that adhere to the new laws.