Los Fresnos News

February City Meeting

Remarks on Stormwater Resolution, Recognition of LF Rotary & More!

Iris Garcia
Special to LFN

On Tuesday, February 13th, the city of Los Fresnos held its regular city council meeting. The meeting was called to order, and the city manager gave an invocation. The mayor and all five of the commissioners were present.

No visitor remarks were made during this meeting. However, there was a public hearing to disseminate information concerning the Stormwater Program and provide an opportunity for the public to input on the subject. City Manager, Mark Millum, gave an update on what the city is doing concerning the program. He said, “In the old days no one really cared about [Stormwater pollution]; things just went down the drain.” If left unchecked, Stormwater pollution has the potential to adversely affect our recreation areas and our environment. The Public Works Department has always played an integral role in maintaining the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) from potential pollution hazards. Public outreach and education are some of the functions the department performs to comply with the responsibilities mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

For example, Public Works distributes various mail-outs through the city’s water bill, drinking Consumer Confidence Reports, and helpful tips and information on the city website. Inlets are also inspected and marked to promote awareness and remind people that pouring hazardous liquids or debris down the inlets will affect the waterways. In addition, the city has invested on a street sweeper that routinely sweeps the city streets to help control the amount of sediment entering the inlets. No comment from the public was made at this time. For more information on the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program and tips please visit the website at https://cityoflosfresnos.com/publicworks.

The council then considered (9) consent agenda items— which are matters considered to be routine by the City Council and will be enacted by one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless requested by a member of the City Council. The item may subsequently be removed from the Consent Agenda to be considered separately.

Consent Agenda items 1- 7 were motioned for approval and seconded. Motion carried unanimously, and are listed below:

  1. Consideration and ACTION to approve the minutes from January 9, 2024 and January 23, 2024.
  2. Consideration and ACTION to approve updates to the Employee Policy Manual Policy 609 Lactation Breaks and Policy 613 Temporary Modified Duty Assignments.
  3. Consideration and ACTION to approve the Quarterly Investment Portfolio Report ended as of December 31, 2023.
  4. Consideration and ACTION to approve an Interlocal Cooperation Contract with Texas Department of Public Safety and the City of Los Fresnos for the Failure to Appear Program.
  5. Consideration and ACTION to approve the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Los Fresnos Police Department and the Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District Police Department.
  6. Consideration and ACTION to approve a Memorandum of Agreement by and between LOS FRESNOS and The LRGV TPDES Stormwater Task Force Partnership, Inc. for preparation of Texas Water Development Board Flood Infrastructure Fund Program Grant applications MOA #R- RGV-TF-2024.
  7. Consideration and ACTION to approve Resolution 2-2024 for the submission of a grant application for Operation Stonegarden for the City of Los Fresnos to the Office of the Governor.

Consent Agenda items 8 and 9 were tabled and taken as “no action” to be reviewed at another time. Following the consent agenda, the city council covered the (5) Action Items.

  1. Consideration and ACTION to approve a Proclamation recognizing the Los Fresnos Rotary Club
    The Rotary Club of Los Fresnos was chartered in April 29, 2019, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Port Isabel, and is celebrating 4 years of service to its community, and the world. Its motto “Service Above Self” inspires members to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards, and promote good will and peace in the world. It has engaged in numerous community-based service projects that address the needs of our community. The Club has also sponsored the Interact Club at the high school level in 2019 with over 200 students learning leadership qualities and serving the community in many projects. With the proclamation the City of Los Fresnos calls upon all its citizens to recognize and celebrate the 119th anniversary of the founding of Rotary International on February 23, 2024, and congratulate our Rotarians for their commitment to serve our community.
    Councilwoman Fernandez, and current president of the Rotary Club, shared a few words saying, “We have worked really hard and closely with the City of Los Fresnos, the school district, and other organizations for the best of our community. I’m so proud to say that I’m part of this organization because what we do is to serve the community.”
    Commissioner Gonzalez, also shared, “I want to thank Donald and Dr. Salazar for getting everything started. What we do together, both as adults and as students in the club that I run, has been a magical blessing. I want to thank all of you guys [referring to his fellow Rotarians present] who have put in a lot of time and effort in getting this club going, and everything you guys do. So, thank you.”
    Commissioner Escobedo, added, “I’m part of the founding members of the club, and I think this Rotary has grown so much and has succeeded in its duties. I just want to congratulate all the presidents that have come before, and our current president, for all the extraordinary job that they have done.”
    The motion to approve the Proclamation was made by Commissioner Vinson and was seconded by Commissioner Munoz. Commissioner Gonzalez and Mayor Flores abstained. Motion carried, 4-0.
  2. Consideration and ACTION to approve a Request for Qualifications for engineering services for the Wastewater Discharge Reuse Project.
    The city manager explains that water in the Rio Grande River continues to be an issue and probably will be in the foreseeable future. The levels are currently just above 20%. Mr. Millum further explained, “It could be that at some point we don’t get any more water, and one day there won’t be no more water in the river to pump to us. We need to do something to have another source of water.”
    As was previously discussed, an idea is to reclaim the discharge water from our Wastewater Plant. Currently the discharge water is cleaned, treated, and discharged into a drainage ditch that ultimately reaches the Brownsville Ship Channel. City Manager added, “The idea is to take this discharge, add the required additional treatment and send it back to our raw water reservoir to mix with water from the Rio Grande River. Our treated discharge will be much cleaner than any water we ever receive from the Rio Grande River. If we can reclaim or reuse most of the discharge water, it will almost sustain our water supply or at least very drastically improve our situation as far as water supply is concerned.” He recommends approval of a Request for Qualifications for engineers and then bring back to the Council for approval to hire the most qualified firm.
    Commissioner Gonzalez made a motion for approval and was seconded by Commissioner Vinson. Motion carried, 6-0.
  3. Consideration and ACTION to approve soliciting bids to replace the Ground Storage Tank at the Water Plant.
    The City Manager reminds the council that about six months ago the 140,000-gallon ground storage tank was replaced, and as part of the water plant upgrade, it is time to replace the 2nd Ground Storage Tank. It has a capacity of approximately 84,000 gallons. There are available funds through the ARPA (Covid) Funds. “This will put us in great shape for the next 20 to 30 years,” says Mr. Millum. Commissioner Escobedo made a motion for approval which was seconded by Commissioner Fernandez. Motion carried, 6-0.
  4. Consideration and ACTION to approve change order number 1 for the Los Fresnos 2021 Street, Sidewalk, and Sewer Improvements Project.
    The City Manager explains, “This is various field changes necessary as construction moves along. Some are due to changes from the time the plans were developed and the actual construction started. Some are worsened curbs and gutters needing to be replaced, replacing drives that were built, adding valley gutters due to water ponding so the ponding occurs on concrete and not asphalt, and water connections and valves that needed to be addressed that we weren’t aware of. Engineer inspector and staff have verified each.”
    Commissioner Fernandez made a motion for approval, and was seconded by Commissioner Escobedo. Motion carried, 6-0
  5. Consideration and ACTION to appoint a member to the Los Fresnos Housing Authority Board.
    The council was asked to appoint someone to serve the remainder of the term left by Rosie Stevens. Stevens moved away from the area, and her term was to expire in October 2025. Director Letty Puga recommends the appointment of Belinda (Bibi) Garza to serve in this capacity. Commissioner Escobedo made a motion for approval, and was seconded by Commissioner Gonzalez. Motion carried, 6-0
    Acknowledgment of city manager’s and department head reports were motioned for approval and seconded. Motion carried, 5-0. The meeting was adjourned at 6:41 PM.