Ordinance adopted, motions passed and cultural developments discussed during Presidio City Council meeting

PRESIDIO — Monday’s regular city council meeting saw the discussions of emergency medical services, the trafficking of undocumented immigrants and more, preceded by a presentation from Presidio’s Cultural Development Association (PCDA). Here’s what happened.

911 compliance and new address number ordinance

Following a city council meeting earlier this month which addressed teacher apartments owned by the school district in regards to the 911 address compliance, Councilmember Rogelio Zubia reported that the apartments had been divided into a North and South complex, with East Santa Fe Boulevard between them. 

The city council also reviewed and approved an ordinance to regulate the numbering of residential and commercial structures in the city with the main purpose of providing safer and more efficient means for emergency services in the city. The ordinance will make it easier for services such as police, EMS and the fire department to reach addresses in times of need. It would also facilitate mail delivery from UPS and FedEx.

Interim City Administratrator and PMDD Director Brad Newton and 911 specialist from the Rio Grande Council of Governments Jesus Balles talked about the new numbering ordinance, which they’d made improvements to for the sake of facilitating the process for residents.

The ordinance will become effective immediately after passage. From then on, citizens will be required to include address numbers on their residential and commercial properties, with 60 days to fix their street numbers. Those who do not comply within the two months will receive a written warning for their violation, and a penalty of up to $200 if said violation is not remedied within 30 days.

“We’re gonna be nice about it,” said Newton, who was particularly worried about commercial buildings in O’Reilly not having numbers on them. “We don’t want to fine anybody, but you’ve got to have something with teeth in there.” 

Councilmember Zubia suggested issuing paperwork with a checklist to assure that the process is spelled out in order to make it easier for people to keep track of protocol. 

“We have to make sure that it’s not a surprise,” he told Newton and Balles. “I put myself in the business owner’s shoes. One would at least want some time to be able to comply.”

Councilmember John Razo concurred, making the motion to go forward with the ordinance under the condition that they provide the paperwork, to which Newton assured that the development district would provide the adequate paperwork. The motion passed unanimously.

Anyone unsure of their street name or structure number can check with the city code department at City Hall.

Impounding Seized Vehicles

The council voted unanimously to authorize City Attorney Rod Ponton to draft an agreement with a local towing company regarding the impounding of vehicles seized by HSR, Customs and Border Protection in an effort to increase state prosecutions.

“We want to be a little more vigorous on that so that we don’t let Presidio become an easy place to come smuggle illegals and sort of get overwhelmed,” Ponton told the council. “We want to make it hard enough for them so that they go somewhere else.” The process, he said, could end up benefiting the police department through funding from the governor’s border initiative, as well as the sale of impounded vehicles.

CPA proposal letters 

During a lengthy executive session, the council discussed reviewing and accepting CPA proposal letters for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. This came after they’d sent out proposals for a new 2019 auditor, following the resignation of auditor Doak Painter in May. 

In a unanimous vote, the council accepted CPA proposal letters for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. They received two proposals from SBNG and Singleton, and chose Singleton.

Open City Administrator Position

The open city administrator position may finally be filled come July 26, after the council voted to review and take action on the pool of applicants for the position. The executive director of the PMDD was appointed to the temporary position by Mayor John Ferguson in February when Joe Portillo stepped down from the role. 

During Monday’s meeting, the council voted to hold an interview process for the position on July 26 in a 3-1 verdict, with Zubia voting against the motion set by Councilmember Razo. Razo’s following motion to extend Newton’s interim position until Jul 26 passed unanimously. Newton, Jeren Stevens and Pamela Woods are the three candidates who will be interviewed. 

During administrative updates, Councilmember Irvin Olivas took to the floor to thank Newton for his work as city administrator. “I just wanna express gratitude for Brad,” he said. “He’s just done a wonderful job.”

Public Comment

The meeting began with public comments from Adele Jancovici and Matt Stevens of the Presidio Cultural Development Association, a local nonprofit. The two talked about past, current and future projects for their organization, including a recent project to install planters on O’Reilly Street, between Saint Francis Plaza and City Hall.

Jancovici told The International that the purpose of the planters would be to bring “more plants, colors, flowers, shade trees to downtown,” and that the project was about to be completed in the next couple of days. 

The planters received criticism of their own from Councilmember Billy Hernandez, who told The Presidio International that he found the rock planters to be “poor in workmanship.” 

“The planters they’re doing along O’Reilly are mostly cement and rock, and in some places you can see through the planters already,” Hernandez said.

Other current projects under the purview of the nonprofit include the creation of their own newspaper covering “positive stories” in Presidio which will run every other month, a movie night initiative for the fall and a proposal to add a “paint for rent” initiative to the Presidio Municipal Development District’s (PMDD) already existing “paint for Presidio” program — the idea, they say, being to reimburse people with vacant properties for paint and materials in exchange for putting the properties up for rent shortly after.

“The idea is to re-dynamize downtown and make it look like it is a place of opportunity, because it is,” said Jancovici in an interview with The Presidio International.

Additionally, they said they are collaborating with the PMDD and the Keep Presidio Beautiful initiative to take care of trash pollution in the city. More “long-term” future plans include a sculpture garden and plans to redesign the “Welcome to Presidio ” signs at the town’s entrance.