June 1, 2022 736 PM
MARFA — The City of Marfa City Council met for a regular meeting last week, the first for newly-appointed Councilmember Mark Cash, to discuss its 2022 tax note, pool rental regulations and more.
Present were Mayor Manny Baeza, Mayor Pro Tem Irma Salgado, City Manager Mandy Roane as well as council members Eddie Pallarez, Raul Lara and Cash. The city is seeking letters of interest until June 28 in order to fill a vacant council seat.
Dustin Traylor, managing director at RBC Capital Markets, the city’s municipal bond advisor, kicked off the meeting by giving a presentation to city council members regarding possible dollar amount and payment terms for a 2022 tax note. A tax note is essentially a loan authorized by the state that allows the city to borrow money and leverage I&S taxing authority to repay loans, which must be paid off within a period of seven years.
The City of Marfa has typically paid off tax notes, which are utilized to fund various city projects, within three years, said Traylor. Because the city recently paid off a 2019 tax note and the local tax base is growing, the city’s capacity to borrow was favorable, said Traylor. He said over the past 10 years Marfa’s tax base had grown at an average rate of 11.25% every year and appraisal values were continually rising (currently sitting at $281 million, a $50 million increase from the year prior).
“The two things driving your increase in capacity is one, paying off the 2019 notes and two, the increases in tax base,” said Traylor.
Due to ever-rising interest rates and inflation, Traylor said it would be beneficial to secure an interest rate and get started on projects sooner rather than later. The primary option council discussed, and ultimately voted unanimously to approve, was the option to borrow a total of $2.95 million and pay it off over seven years with an I&S tax rate of 17 cents. The current I&S tax rate is 12.59 cents, but because the M&O tax rate is falling, said Traylor, taxpayers shouldn’t see too much of a change in their overall tax rate. The city’s I&S tax rate has historically been higher than the current 12.59 cent rate.
The city will have to spend the $2.95 million within three years. When asked by Councilmember Pallarez how they would spend that amount within the time frame, Mayor Baeza said projects were stacking up across city departments and costs to repair roads, purchase heavy machinery and more were extremely costly. Their new groundwater storage tank alone costs $750,000, he said, plus the city’s water and sewer departments needed an influx of cash to help with building maintenance and more.
With the council’s decision, Traylor will now work on gathering a number of bank proposals and will be back to present them to council soon. The city will then award the tax note to the bank that offers the lowest cost of financing and could have money in hand within three months or sooner, said Traylor.
The next significant topic of discussion was regarding the Marfa Activities Center Pool, which was scheduled to reopen for the summer season on May 31, but is being pushed back to June 3 due to lifeguard certification delays.
Roane reported that the pool will be available for rentals on Sundays for a rental fee of $150 and $100 cleaning deposit. The total number of guests must not exceed 50, she said, and there will be two lifeguards on duty during Sunday pool party rentals. Those wishing to rent out the pool must be 21 or older and need to schedule two weeks in advance, first come first served. Cancellations will be accepted without a penalty fee one week in advance.
Interested parties will need to fill out a rental agreement with the city and will need to clean up after their events and take out any trash when they depart, said Roane.
Regarding regular open days from Tuesday to Sunday, parents of children 8 and up swimming without a chaperone will be required to sign waivers for their children upon first swim so the city can have it on file for the summer.
In miscellaneous news, the Presidio County Appraisal District requested $987.00 of surplus funds be utilized to purchase a new server, which will cost around $19,000 total. The appraisal district will need to get approval from all of the taxing entities in the county to move forward with the server purchase. Council voted to approve the spending of the surplus funds on a new-and-improved server, and a representative from the PCAD said their current server was from 2014.
“Maybe that server will get the values to go down,” Salgado said of the new server, laughing.
Next, council appointed new Councilmember Mark Cash to serve on the Parks and Recreation Board and the mayor gave a short but sweet report focused on Marfa High School’s latest graduating class.
“Congratulations to the Marfa High School Class of 2022. I wish them well on their future endeavors,” said Baeza.
Roane wrapped up the meeting with her city manager’s report. Regarding the city’s active requests for proposals (RFPs), of which there are two — one requesting a contractor for a fire station expansion project and one requesting a wastewater rate study — Roane said there had been no applicants for the fire station expansion project but she was in discussion with a number of firms for the wastewater study and expected someone to submit a proposal soon.
The fire station expansion project bids will remain open until June 16, she said. Councilmember Pallarez inquired as to the progress on the Marfa and Presidio County Museum — the city is currently working with engineers from INSIGHT Structures to assess the adobe building and develop a plan that will then be used to put out an RFP for construction services. Roane said there were no significant updates but she expected to have some in time for the next city council meeting.
On behalf of Police Chief Steve Marquez, Roane said the law enforcement department received two of their new vehicles and would be receiving an additional three soon. The new police fleet is being funded by grant money from Operation Lonestar.