La Feria News

Commission votes to renew COVID-19 disaster declaration

The La Feria city commission voted Tuesday, October 13, to extend the local disaster declaration pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. All meetings will continue to be held virtually online via Zoom as they have been since March of this year. Photo: Cayetano Garza Jr. / LFN

By CAYETANO GARZA JR.
LFN

The La Feria city commission held its first regularly scheduled meeting this month on Tuesday, October 13, at 6:30 pm.

In accordance with an order by the office of the Texas governor issued March 16, the commission has been holding its meetings online via Zoom live stream in lue of face-to-face meetings to slow the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining strict social distancing while still allowing the commission to perform the duties and functions of civic government.

After observing the usual protocols of a regular meeting (invocation, pledge, determining quorum present, and call to order), the commission approved minutes for the meeting held September 22, 2020. There were no community members signed up to present public comments so the commission proceeded with the other items on the agenda for the evening.

The next item was a consideration of the extension of the local disaster declaration pertaining to the public health emergency presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The commission voted to extend the declaration unanimously. This means a continuation of online meetings.

The next item for consideration for the night’s meeting involved approval of a resolution to appoint members to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Three members have been approved for coninuation with the board, however the membership status of two other members are unknown at this time and they have been unreachable despite several attempts by commission members and city staff to contact them. City manager Jaime Sandoval stressed that there are now several items before the Zoning Board have had to be tabled because of the lack of quorum, however many of those items have become pressing. The commission voted to table the resolution so that final attempts at contacting the final two Zoning Board members in question are made before the next meeting on October 27th. At that time the commission will either approve the members having contacted them and verified their desire to continue with the board or new members will be nominated and voted in.

The next item for consideration before the city commission was an action to enter a Master use agreement with Cameron County Emergency Communication District for participation in the Emergency Warning Notification System.

The Emergency Warning Notification System enables local public safety personnel to notify residents and businesses by telephone, text message, email, and social media of time-sensitive information, emergencies, or urgent notifications. The system can reach hundreds of thousands of individuals in minutes to ensure information such as evacuation notices, missing persons, inclement weather advisories, and more are quickly shared.

The commission voted unanimously to enter the Master use agreement.
The next item for consideration was the renewal of annual membership in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas for 2021.

The deregulated electricity market in Texas began in 2002, allowing customers the ability to shop for a competitive electric supplier. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is at the heart of Texas’s electric system, operating the high-voltage transmission network, administering and monitoring the wholesale electricity markets, and planning for the state’s energy future.

ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers, representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and 680+ generation units. It also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for 8 million premises in competitive choice areas. ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. Its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers and municipally owned electric utilities.

The commission approved the membership renewal.

Finally, the commission considered and voted to adopt a resolution to adopt a professional services agreement with Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, Inc. and Gexa Energy’s commercial electric service agreement for power to be provided on and after January 1, 2023.

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power (TCAP) is a non-profit political subdivision corporation established by the 2010 merger of Cities Aggregation Power Project, Inc. and South Texas Aggregation Project, Inc., both created in 2001 to aggregate members’ power needs in order to negotiate better electric prices for their members. TCAP is one of the largest political subdivision aggregation groups in Texas with political subdivision members that purchase approximately 1.3 billion kWh annually.

TCAP members not only enjoy increased yearly savings, but also are able to estimate their budgets with more certainty. TCAP has created a unique arrangement that provides some relief from traditional energy pricing in the Texas market, and is the only political subdivision aggregation group to procure power for its members in this manner. In addition, members may use TCAP’s experienced legal and energy consultants to evaluate energy purchase options, investigate and resolve billing disputes and switching problems, and provide insights into the complicated deregulated energy market.

Gexa Energy serves all of the deregulated areas within the state of Texas.
The item was approved by the commission.

With no other business on the agenda, the commission voted to adjourn.

The next meeting of the La Feria city commission is scheduled for November 10, 2020 at 6:30 pm. To view the meeting via internet live streaming, please visit https://www.cityoflaferia.com/boards-and-commissions/city-commission/agendas-2020/ where you will find the agenda for the next meeting. The pdf for the agenda will include a link, meeting ID and passcode for the Zoom meeting. More information is available by calling 346-248-7799. Members of the public may sign up for public comment on an agenda item or for another item of public concern by submitting an email to amorales@cityoflaferia.com containing the name of the individual wishing to comment; and the item number or subject matter the individual wishes to comment on. Please submit requests for public comment no later than two hours before the meeting. Join the meeting at the time and login listed above and the Mayor will call on you when it is your turn to speak. A recording of the meeting will be made and is available to the public in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act.

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