San Felipe eyes future development, expansion

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The Town of San Felipe is setting itself up for economic advancement and growth through thrifty spending and possible state funding, aldermen said during a June 12 meeting.

Danielle Rojas, a planner with Austin-based GrantWorks Inc. addressed Texas Department of Agriculture requirements for filing community development block grants as a municipal government.

A block grant acts as a financial buffer for local level governments to protect taxpayer dollars by using state funding for infrastructure. According to the TDA, the grant program provides viable economic access to communities to establish decent housing, principally, those with low to moderate income levels.

Rojas told aldermen block grants can aid San Felipe with developing a 10-year comprehensive plan for water and wastewater improvements for anticipated population growth, along with land usage, street improvements, drainage and recreation.

Upon approval, the state could provide San Felipe with $30,000 in grant funding toward comprehensive plan development costs with a $3,000 portion coming from the city. Then, San Felipe would have 12 days to review the plan and pay out its portion before TDA releases funding, which pays for consultation work by GrantWorks.

It’s a multi-tiered process, but “ultimately, the idea is to get to the grant money,” Alderman Kent McAllister said.

Rojas said having an established plan doesn’t necessarily guarantee funding from TDA but it helps.

Council unanimously approved a resolution designating authorized signatures for the Texas CDBG Program planning contract.

In a separate item that accepted a 2016 audit report from the city’s certified public accountants, Darilek, Butler & Associates, PLLC, representatives, San Felipe’s former external accounting firm, announced its recent merger with Haney & Company CPAs, a leading regional accounting firm.

Representatives present at the June 12 meeting said the merger provides “more support and better technology” for its customers to “‘outbig’ the little guys and ‘outlittle’ the big guys.”

There was present deficit within the 2016 audit report, which covers the fiscal period between October 2015 and September 2016, but auditors said asset depreciation would offset that, as well the city’s current endeavors in state block grants. Overall, the 2016 report was favorable and comparable to its 2015 predecessor, according to Haney & Company representatives, leading aldermen to unanimously accept the report.

The Interstate 10 expansion project by the Texas Department of Transportation is nearing San Felipe’s front door and to ready themselves for that prospect aldermen approved a resolution consenting to temporary work zone speed reductions.

Council also renewed a contract for Michael Drab of Environmental & Aquatic Services, LLC, as the city’s onsite sewage inspector. As an addition, council asked Mayor Bobby Byars to request inspection documentation from Drab for their records and review. Alderwoman Cynthia “Dusty” Kelly also suggested adding general liability on Drab as the city’s inspector.

There was an item to purchase equipment for the street department, such as a 15-foot shedder, but council tabled the item until they received more than one bid.

In aldermen comments, council proposed adding a budget amendment to the next agenda to ensure the city doesn’t approach its cap for the fiscal year with approximately two months to go in the year. Aldermen also requested equipment replacement at the city park, a city website update for modernity and acceptance of online payments, and the possible creation of a new administrative post to assist City Secretary Sue Foley with work.

The next San Felipe City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 10.

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