Lockhart City Council extends CCCM lease agreement
By Wesley Gardner
The Lockhart City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement with the Caldwell County Christian Ministries (CCCM) Food Pantry that will extend the food bank’s lease for another five years.
According to Public Works Director Sean Kelley, the agreement stipulates that the food bank will pay an annual rent of $1 and cover all the costs of fuel, electric, garbage, telephone and other utilities used at the facility
“The CCCM has been operating at that facility for five years and has provided a wonderful service,” said Kelley.
Kelley noted the agreement will also include the addition of a community garden and garden shed to be constructed near the property, noting the food bank would use it as an opportunity to provide additional fresh produce to its clients.
In other business, councilmembers listened to a presentation concerning the city’s mid-year financial report.
City Manager Steve Lewis noted the difficulty in compiling the report in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Usually, when you’re in the middle of a typical recession or downturn, you have some feel for how long it’s going to last and how severe it’s going to be,” said Lewis. “Most of those things are still unclear to us.
“Businesses are going to reopen, but are people going to show up? There are obviously people who are concerned about exposing to their children to the infection. People are frankly scared, and it’s difficult to predict how it’s going to affect the economy.”
To deal with the negative economic impacts, City Finance Director Pam Larison said the city has frozen all non-public safety vacancies, directed staff to review and potentially pause planned capital expenditures, directed staff to review all single expenditures between $5,000 and $9,999 and delay all non-essential spending.
Larison said the city is projecting an overall sales tax loss of $252,000 for fiscal year 2019-20, noting officials would be monitoring expected Congressional action in Washington that could bring additional stimulus money to the city.
Councilmembers also approved the adoption of the Caldwell County Hazard Mitigation Action Plan, following suit from action taken by Caldwell County Commissioners last week.
According to Lockhart Fire Chief Randy Jenkins, approval of the document will allow the city to apply for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the case of a local disaster.
Approval of the plan also allows the city to apply for funds that could be used for pre-disaster mitigation projects, ensuring the city is prepared for disaster events before they occur, Jenkins said.
The report contains hazard descriptions and action plans for the following activities: floods, extreme heat, expansive soils, dam failure, drought, wildfire, thunderstorm winds, tornado lightning hail and winter storms.
Jenkins noted the plan only applies to natural disasters, and not pandemics.
“It is ironic that right now we’re in the middle of a pandemic and it’s not included in this plan, but that’s FEMA,” Jenkins said.
In other business, Councilmembers approved a measure that will allow the city to apply for grants from FEMA to purchase protective clothing including masks, face shields and gloves, disinfection of buildings, hand sanitizer, medical supplies, disinfectant, overtime and other costs related to the COVID-19 response.
Jenkins noted the grants would be administered at a federal cost share of 75 percent, meaning the city would be reimbursed 75 percent of whatever it spent on the approved materials.