Presidio council finally meets, seeks ambulance and firetruck grants

PRESIDIO – The Presidio City Council went to work as they finally made a quorum at last week’s council meeting. It’s been almost two months since they last met due to one council member vacancy and scheduling conflicts. The last time the council met was on March 27.

Recently elected council members Irvin Olivas and Rogelio Zubia and re-elected Presidio Mayor John Ferguson were sworn into office before the meeting.

City Administrator Jose Portillo said the city had a very productive meeting as they addressed grants that could provide funding for emergency and safety resources.

The council gave its blessing to apply for a Texas Community Development Block Grant Program (TxCDBG) Fire, Ambulance, & Services Truck (FAST) Fund from the Texas Department of Agricultural. The FAST Fund provides matching funds up to $500,000 to rural communities with less than 50,000 residents for emergency vehicles, including ambulances and fire trucks. Presidio is requesting $500,000 to purchase an ambulance and a brush truck that is used to fight brush fires. Portillo said the current truck is old and tends to break down a lot. Presidio purchased a new ambulance a few years ago with the help of a Big Bend Regional Hospital District grant, but the secondary ambulance has reached 150,000 miles and needs to be replaced. Portillo said that $500,000 sounds like a lot of money, but they are looking at an estimated $265,000 for an ambulance and $275,000 for a fire truck. The intent is to divide the grant funds between EMS and the fire department.

“We wouldn’t say no to a partial grant, but we will have to determine where the rest of the money comes from,” said Portillo.

The deadline to apply for the grant is today.

City Council also approved the Transportation Alternative Program Project through the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT). The project will create a bike and hike trail across town to create safer streets and routes to the schools. The routes center around the three campuses as well as the football field and the Presidio Activity Center. Portillo said most of the project will include eight feet of sidewalk on one end and 12 feet on the other for walking and biking with lights, rest areas and markers along the way.

The entire project will cost $7,447,791, but the city will receive $5,917,613 of federal funding and $1,015,155 of state funding, leaving the city with a bill of $515,023, or 6.91 percent of the total project.

“For every 14 cents we put in, we’re getting one grant dollar back,” said Portillo.

Portillo said that the city budget doesn’t have a lot to work with, but they feels this project will help the county as a whole as well as benefit the school.

“We do want to reach out to the school and the county and see if they’d like to participate in this funding opportunity and maybe help sponsor the project,” said Portillo.

The presentation of the 2016-2017 audit was tabled as it’s not ready. Portillo said the auditor from Painter and Associates, P.C. hopes to be done with it this week.