A new group of city council members convened Monday evening to handle business items on the agenda for the regular monthly meeting, November 16, at city hall.

Outgoing Mayor Wanda Shurley called the meeting to order and took a vote on canvassing the votes of the November 3rd election before handing over the reins to incoming Mayor Juanita Gomez.

Gomez, along with council members Darrell Barker, Mike Sanchez and Harold Martinez, was sworn in. Council Member Lionel Cervantez, Jr. was appointed Mayor Pro Tem.

City Manager Art Fuentes updated the council on a few matters including the coronavirus situation in Sonora, Corona Relief Fund, airport fuel and the senior center.

Fuentes noted that Sonora is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of positive cases of the virus necessitating the need for everyone to wear a mask when in public. As for expected financial assistance from the Corona Relief Fund, the city has already received 20 percent of the anticipated $167,000 to be used towards off setting expenses related to COVID-19. In addition, the floor at the senior center needs replacing. Fuentes said he has spoken with County Judge Steve Smith about receiving financial assistance from the county to afford the expense. Lastly, Fuentes informed council members that he is looking into lease options to provide Jet A fuel at the airport.

Turning their attention to regular business matters, the council first approved the minutes of the October 19, 2020 regular meeting before hearing a presentation by Suez Advances Solutions, a utility service company that provides contracted services for maintaining potable water distribution systems. Brian Woodring, Director, and Amy Hall, Water System Consultant, presented information related to servicing the municipal water wells that store and provide water to municipal customers. The contracted amount proposed would be approximately $187,000 if the city opts to contract with Suez to provide a Tank Asset Management Program. No action was taken.

Following the presentation, council members reviewed the monthly water report and heard comments from Water Superintendent Charlotte McElwain.

The report showed a total of 23,226,196 gallons of water pumped and 11,762,100 gallons of water sold during the month of October. Eleven leaks were repaired and 1,184,125 gallons of water was lost due to leaks, according to the report. Council Member Barker inquired about the unaccounted water loss of about 10 million gallons. McElwain said it was related to the obsolete ground meters. The council approved the report as presented.

Next, Chief Jerzy Bider highlighted information in the Sonora Police Department monthly report. Bider noted that there were 145 citations and 291 warning issued during the month of October. In addition, there were 118 calls for service, 252 security checks, 14 incident reports, two crash reports and two arrests. The Animal Control Officer impounded 21 animals, trapped 17 and disposed of 17 animals. Three animals were adopted or fostered and six were returned to owner. Five citations were issued and three animals tested for rabies were negative. The council approved the report as presented.

No monthly report for the senior center was available so it was tabled.

Code Enforcement Officer Briggs Simms noted a total of $2,186.69 was collected this past month. Simms issued 14 permits and two Red Tag warnings, issued two citations and sent 30 letters during October. He completed 16 inspections and opened five cases. Simms also noted that two residential structures were demolished and work continues on a number of projects such as Sonora Bank, senior apartments, nail salon, hospital rehab building and Dairy Queen. In response to a question from Council Member Barker, Simms said there were no repeat offenders. The council approved the report as presented.

Municipal Judge Jerry Kemp reported a total of $24,405.86 was collected in payment for citations, fines and other fees during October. He also noted an additional $20,136.10 was not collected and remains outstanding. The Year to Date total for municipal court collections is $243,176.92. These funds are included in the city’s revenue, according to Kemp.

Council members also took a look at the monthly water reclamation report before a discussion about budget transfers. The council approved the report as presented as well as authorized Fuentes to transfer money between line items in the budget as needed.

They also gave their OK for Fuentes to advertise for airport lights.

Last on the agenda, council members had a brief discussion regarding the accounts payable. No action was taken.

Before adjourning, Fuentes presented Shurley with an honorary gavel in appreciation for her service to the community as Mayor of Sonora.

Mayor Juanita Gomez presided over the meeting. Council Members Lionel Cervantez, Jr., Harold Martinez, Darrell Barker and Mike Sanchez were present.

The next regular meeting of the City Council is scheduled for Monday, December 21, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall.