Just hours before the Wharton City Council convened for its regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, June 8, the Public Works Committee met and discussed the emergency repairs needed on its Santa Fe Drainage Channel Outfall.
This structure controls the water drainage from the city’s ditches along the Santa Fe Trail to the Colorado River when experiencing heavy rains and prevents high-level river water from entering into the drainage ditch.
The city was aware of the structure’s apron damage sustained during Harvey; however, the emergency repair is due to a recently discovered crack in the structure.
‘It has been identified as a crack in the outfall that could be detrimental to the structure.’
“The Army Corps of Engineers, along with Jones and Carter Inc., continued to repair and monitor the drainage outfall,” City of Wharton Community Development Director Gwen Teves said. “Two weeks ago, they discovered a small crack that appears minor, but could cause a total collapse of the structure.”
Teves said that the repairs are needed rather quickly to ensure proper drainage and flood control to the city.
“They (Jones and Carter Inc.) could only find one company that could make the repair, which is AfterMath Structural Repair in Houston,” she said. “The quote from AfterMath came back to be $48,500, with the projected time frame for repair being four to six weeks.”
With neither state nor federal funding available for costs incurred to the city, Teves’s recommendation to the committee was to seek council’s approval to fund this emergency repair.
“With us having entered into hurricane season, we can’t wait on potential funding to come elsewhere,” she said. “The company would have to special order a type of pier called helical piers. As soon as those piers come in, they can begin working to repair the channel outfall structure.”
During the Wharton City Council meeting later that evening, Teves presented the repair contract quote from AfterMath, along with a recommendation from Stephen Swindell with Jones and Carter Inc.
“It has been identified as a crack in the outfall that could be detrimental to the structure,” Teves said. “It is recommended from the Public Works Committee that we move forward with the emergency repairs in the amount of approximately $48,500.”
This resolution was approved by council members, awarding the contract to AfterMath Structural Repair.
Prior to its regularly-scheduled meeting, council held a public hearing regarding the Wharton, Texas, Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recover (CDBG-DR) local buyout and acquisition program.
“The City of Wharton was allocated $1.6 million allocation from the GLO after Hurricane Harvey, to conduct the buyouts,” Teves told council members. “The city has been working with GrantWorks and we have come up with the guidelines for the program that have by GLO.”
The public hearing was a requirement for the approval of the guidelines. No public comment was made.
The hearing concluded at 7:04 p.m.
Council also voted to approve:
• Reading of the minutes from the regular meetings held May 11 and May 26.
‘In these strange days we live in, we had to do some work to come to a projection on what we expect to take in.’
• A resolution of the Wharton City Council authorizing the submission of an application to the Texas Water Development Board for a city drainage plan and projects and authorizing the mayor of the City of Wharton to execute all documents related to said submission.
“The Texas Water Development Board has opened up a funding opportunity after Hurricane Harvey for mitigation projects. City staff has been working with Wes Birdwell with Halff & Associates to develop drainage plans and projects that could apply for this program and funding,” Teves said. “At this time, the staff is requesting that we authorize to submit an application under the TWDB flood investment funding for a regional drainage study of the city, as well as for drainage projects or construction, if approved.”
• A resolution of the Wharton City Council amending the agreement with SMC Consulting Inc. for professional environmental engineering services-rework and alterations, public hearing meetings and TxDOT coordination report/revisions in Wharton, Texas SMC. 13000-2020 proposed City of Wharton/TxDOT Fm 1301 Extension and Railroad Overpass Project and authorizing the mayor of the City of Wharton to execute the agreement.
“Since we are moving forward on this project once again, a review by TxDOT has revealed updates and a few changes to the environmental assessment that was completed. What this would include is those updates and changes to the environmental assessment, as well as a public hearing that is required to be held per TxDOT requirements,” Teves told Wharton council members. “We recommend that we enter into an amendment with SMC Consulting as they have completed that work and this would just require an amendment and not starting over.”
• Wharton Economic Development Corporation Fiscal Year 2020-21 annual budget.
“In these strange days we live in, we had to do some work to come to a projection on what we expect to take in,” said Wharton Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Executive Director Chad Odom.
He told council that the sales tax revenue budget report shows: From October through December, WEDC brought in 70% of the income that was expected in the previous year; in January through February, 75%; March, April and May, 85%; June, July and August, 95%; and September, 95%.
“That puts us at 81.83% of our total budget. Time will tell how accurate these are. We are waiting for sales tax numbers this week,” Odom said. “Year to date, we’re down .23% of our projections. So this next income cycle of sales tax will really kind of tell us where we are. It’ll be the worst we see.”
• Appointments and resignations to the City of Wharton boards, commissions and committees.
According to the assistant to the city manager Brandi Jimenez, there were three resignations to various boards.
Wharton City Council is scheduled to meet again at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 22. The city also invites the public to join in its first 2020-21 budget hearing, held at 6 p.m. on June 23 at city hall, 120 East Caney Street.
Natalie Frels-Busby also contributed to this article.