Good News At City Council Meeting
It isn’t often that utility users get a break on their bills, but local residents are getting one next month. Holtville’s sewer bills were set to rise by 1.9 percent in July but the City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to postpone the increase by a year. City Manager Nick Wells explained that rates were raised in 2013 as plans were being developed for the city’s new treatment plant. The lenders for the project required higher rates to help pay for the plant, and a second increase was set for July 2017. But the council’s vote will put that off for a year and give city staffers time to see how well existing rates are covering expenses, allowing local residents and businesses to keep a little more money in their pockets for the time being.
The treatment facility was completed recently and trucks carrying waste from outside sources are now back to dropping off at the site on a regular basis. The money those companies pay for using the city’s excess capacity provides considerable revenue and helps keep bills lower for everyone. They had stopped for a while because of the construction taking place at the facility on Kamm Road.
In other action, the council formally approved a new budget for the coming year. There aren’t many changes from previous years, and the spending plan is balanced. Good news was also received in regards to the upcoming repaving of West Sixth Street. The project is expected to come in under budget, and the major portions of the project should be finished by the time school starts. $650,000 was set aside for the street renovations and the city may be able to upgrade the drainage system near Melon Avenue so that there is less flooding in the area when it rains.
Even more good news came when Justina Arce, representing the city’s engineer The Holt Group, told the council that the owner of Raspados Cuchis has submitted a proposal to build a new restaurant at the corner of Sixth and Holt, south of the library. That lot has sat vacant for many years, and the project would include a home on the back of the lot. The good news train kept right on rolling with an update on the wetlands project that the city has been working on.
Rights of way are being obtained that will allow the project just northwest of the city to connect with the Pete Mellinger Alamo River Trail that runs along the south side of town. Additional trees are planned that will be along the southern side of the site to block the view of some old vehicles there. The wetlands will be a series of small filtration ponds built alongside the Alamo River to clean the water. A few similar projects have already been built along the Alamo and New Rivers, and they provide picturesque areas for walking and birdwatching. The Holtville wetlands project got underway more than ten years ago but has been stalled until recently.