Council partners with Bluebonnet, LCRA on substation construction
By Miranda Rogers
After a lengthy discussion and explanation of necessity and benefits, the City of Lockhart will be teaming up with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and Bluebonnet Electric Co-op (Bluebonnet) to construct a new electric substation near the western city limits to provide current and future electrical power
capabilities in all areas of the city.
According to City Manager Vance Rogers, Lockhart has been in need of a new electric substation in the western portion of the city for several years for future growth, expanding current load transfer capabilities, and completing a loop feed system for the distribution system.
Because the cost to construct the transformer would cost the city $3.5 million or more, Lockhart is joining the LCRA and Bluebonnet to build the substation west of SH130, near Borchert Loop. Despite sharing the cost with other entities, Lockhart does expect construction of the substation to trigger a slight increase in utility rates.
Upon learning about the increase, which is expected to be 45-50 cents per month for a minimal user, Councilmember Richard Banks questioned the importance and necessity of the construction. Both Councilmember Paul Gomez and Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez tried to eplain to Banks that the additional substation will allow people in District 2 to get the voltage that they need, as well as eliminate some of the problems that the west side of town has been having with receiving electricity and heat during the winters.
While Banks admitted its priority, he was still opposed to raising utility rates to pay off the bonds, yet could not offer any alternatives.
“This is an improvement on a city-wide basis, and it [comes with a price],” Mayor Lew White said. The current substation is currently 35 years old, and the additional substation will provide the right voltage needed to take the load off of the existing feeders.
In other news, the American Red Cross has partnered with the Lockhart Fire Department and the Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management to set up a shelter in response to emergency conditions.
There will be an Emergency Shelter Operation Drill held on Nov. 10, 2012 to test newfound knowledge and expand on what the partnership can do during emergencies. The main goals of the drill are to test the communication path from Emergency Management to Red Cross, and the abilities of members to operate and manage the shelter. The shelter will be used to address local disasters that prevent people from getting home, and is not expected be used for evacuation from the Coast. During a real emergency, Red Cross will receive a call and the Lions Club will be contacted to operate the shelter.
Regarding the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Lockhart and Seton Family of Hospitals, there has been a minor change in wording to state, “[the] City desires to have such services continue in a fiscally responsible manner for Lockhart,” at the advice of City Attorney Peter Gruning.
Gruning said he and Mike Spivey, an attorney for Seton, have been working on the document, and have agreed that Lockhart will be own the ambulances and two buildings, and Seton will be providing employees as well as the general liability coverage. The Memorandum of Understanding allows Lockhart a “back door” for any reason necessary with a termination after 180 days without an agreement.
The Fire Department applied for a grant to allow them to purchase a small brush truck in 2009, which was supposed to be purchased during the Fiscal Year 2011-12. Due to Dragon Brush Truck’s failure to supply the vehicle, delivery has been delayed until after the start of the current fiscal year. The cost to the city will be $10,666.50 for the Small Brush Truck with CAFS.
Chief Mike Lummus of the Police Department presented the Fiscal Year 2012 Chapter 59 Asset Forfeiture Report by Law Enforcement Agency to the Texas Attorney General. The reports show an end balance of $533 in seized funds and $1,188 in forfeited funds. The money will be used for law enforcement purposes, and can be used for emergency vehicle and highway interdiction.
Texas Gas Service will receive a 15-year renewal of franchise to use streets, alleys, thoroughfares and other public ways to operate and maintain a natural gas distribution system in the City of Lockhart. The franchise fee is 5 percent of gross sales within the City Limits.
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Center at Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.