Sonora City Council members met Monday, May 18, and voted to close the municipal pool this summer.

Additionally, the council approved to reopen City Hall to the public, a payment plan for hotel/motel tax deferments and welcomed comments during two public hearings.

Although the doors were open to visitors, the meeting was also made available via audio/video conference (Zoom). 

Following regular business including updates from City Manager Art Fuentes and approval of usual consent items as presented, the council open the first public hearing.

The council is requesting an additional $100,000.00 contribution to the previous infrastructure project along Loop 467. The project is an extension of the city sewer service to I-10 Exit 404. The contribution towards the project will help enhance the economic growth in the community, according to the reading. With the exception of Economic Development Director David Smith, there were no questions or comments. Smith the request would increase the current project contribution to the city.

The council members next held a public hearing for a request from the city for a $30,000 contribution toward the repair of the sewer lift station behind the Tres Amigos store on Water Avenue. Again, the request cited the need for additional funding, “in order to promote and enhance the economic growth in the community.” Again, there were no questions or comments from the public. 

City Manager Fuentes noted that both project expenses were not budgeted; therefore, grant funding is necessary to complete them this year.
Smith reminded the council that fulfilling both grant requests would place the city over the agreed yearly contribution from SEDC according a Memorandum of Understanding.

Moving on to other business, the council approved a motion to close the municipal pool throughout the summer to allow for much needed upgrades and repairs.

After some discussion and guidance from Attorney Clint Griffin, the council voted in favor of a plan to collect payments for hotel/motel tax (HOTS) deferments. Council members approved a three-month deferment during their regular meeting in April. Under the payment plan, hotel owners who took advantage of the allowance are required to begin repaying taxes beginning July 2020. Council Member Gomez abstained from voting. Gomez is an employee of one of the hotels participating in the deferment program.

Tourism Committee Chairman Max Howarth asked for more clarification since the loss of HOTS funds has created a hardship for entities that rely on HOTS funding. According to City Secretary Belia Fay, hotels are still required to submit monthly reports of tax revenue. The reports will provide the numbers needed for budgeting.

Other matters addressed by the council included approving a request for a special use permit by Melinda Barrett to operate a salon in a residential zone.

Additionally, they gave approval on quarterly reports as presented. These include Sonora Chamber of Commerce and the SEDC. 

They also voted in favor of renewing an agreement between the city and Concho Valley Workforce Development Board.

Two donations were approved by the council as well. Both were for the Senior Center and equaled $1,050.

As a matter of housekeeping, the council appointed Shanna Castro to Serve on the Board of Adjustments. Castro will replace Brenda Mungia who now resides outside of the city limits according to council members with knowledge.

Lastly, council members took a look at their calendars and agreed on a date to begin budget workshops for the 2020-2021 fiscal budget. 
There was no other business discussed during Monday’s meeting. Mayor Wanda Shurley presided over the meeting. Shurley also took a minute to read aloud a resolution, n behalf of the city, regarding the 2020 Peace Officers Memorial Week.

Council Members Juanita Gomez, Norm Rousselot and Harold Martinez were present in person. Council Member Lionel Cervantez joined the meeting via audio/video conference.

 The next regular meeting of the Sonora City Council is scheduled for Monday, June 15, 2020, at 6:00 p.m.