Home buy-out grants possible
Paige Lambert | The News Dispatch | November 24, 2015
The Wimberley City Council unanimously approved two firms to assist with the city’s hazard mitigation grant application. Council chose M&S Engineering for engineering services and Langford Community Management Services to provide grant writing and administration services. According to City Administrator Don Ferguson, the point of the grant is to find assistance with elevating and/or potential buyouts of homes. He said the process began a few weeks ago after the prompting of city council and some interest from residents. Ferguson added there have only been a handful of residents interested in funds for elevating and even less for potential buyouts. “Once we’ve told some of those people when they elevate they will have to go to the (advisory base flood elevation maps (ABFEs)), they have backed off from it,” Ferguson said.
The ABFEs were the maps Wimberley’s council did not approve a few weeks ago. Councilmember John White said he was concerned about paying for services if no property owners are interested in the grant money. “If there is no interested generated, we aren’t going to submit an application,” Ferguson said. “If there aren’t any properties for them to work on, they aren’t going to charge us.” The purpose of using M&S Engineering, according to Ferguson, is for them to create a cost benefit analysis, assessments and manage some of the project for each property interested. “They will be an integrately involved in the process,” Ferguson said. “From the sizing of the project we think M&S is more of a Wimberley-sized engineer.”
Langford would write the grant proposal and help manage the funding if it was awarded. Ferguson said two grant-writing firms applied, with Langford saying they would do the work at no cost. If Wimberley went with Langford, the city would pay an initial cost of at least $12,000 for the application. “Even with M&S Engineering working with Langford, the cost is going to be that high on the application,” he said. “So we are a little leery of using H20.” The initial cost of applying through H2O would be anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000, Ferguson said. According to Ferguson, the city will spend the next few weeks reaching out to those interested in the program and developing a contract with M&S to get the ball rolling. The deadline for this grant is in mid-December and a similar program to this may not be open for another 8 to 10 months. Anyone interested in receiving funds to elevate their home is encouraged to contact the city.
No changes for wastewater system
The council also voted down a motion to research enhancing the quality of sewer effluent produced by the Central Wimberley Wastewater System. The vote failed 3-2 with council members Mac McCullough and John White voting for it. McCullough said he wanted to put forth the best effort with the system by seeing what it would take to make the water potable, or drinkable. He said it would be done in case the need arose or Wimberley experiences another drought. “The goal is we build the best system we can for the money we can expend,” he said. “I’m not satisfied with it because it’s not our best effort.”
Council member Pam Showalter said there weren’t enough specifics to what would need to be changed for her to support further inquiry. “I need to know specifically what you are trying to accomplish and what the goal is,” Showalter said. “It’s a whole other ball of wax in the design to make it potable, from what I understand.” McCullough said his next step would be to bring in a group who is knowledgeable about such improvements. He did not mention that group’s name during the meeting. According to councilmember Bob Dussler, the effluent meets the quality to irrigate Blue Hole Regional Park and is of a better quality than what is sprayed on the Woodcreek golf course.
After many years of developing the proposed Central Wimberley Wastewater System, Ferguson said the plans are now designed and permits are at the Texas Water Development Board. Feguson said he expects to hear from them by the end of the year.