Giving residents a break after a harsh icy week will top discussions when El Campo City Council meets Monday. 

“In light of the large number of breaks, staff is recommending waiving penalty fees for this month’s bills, as well as billing at January’s consumption,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said Thursday. 

City hall has been inundated with calls and concerns as the public deals with frozen pipes and spewing lines while struggling with well below average temperatures and, in most cases, no power. 

Late fees on utility payments were first waived until Feb. 16 and then moved back to Feb. 22 as storm conditions intensified, leaving the city to urge residents to stay put and not try to travel simply to make a utility payment. 

That was followed by a period of utility crews working with residents to shut down mains to houses where lines had burst only to discover the effort had generated a rumor of water being taken away from non-payers. No water was shut down for failure to pay during an ice storm. 

A boil water notice, however, was issued Wednesday when pressure throughout the El Campo system dropped below safety levels. That notice remained in effect as of press time. 

Crews hope the system can be restored to normal operation by Wednesday, Feb. 24, but that is a hope – not a certainty. Look to Leader-News or city social media for immediate reporting on the issue. Until then, any water that is to be consumed, used to cook with or similar use must be boiled for safety’s sake. Bottled water is the only safe alternative.

The El Campo City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday in chambers, 315 E. Jackson. The meeting is open to the public with time specifically designated for citizen comments.

Only 26 people will be allowed in council chambers. Those attending must wear a mask. Those unable to attend can submit their comments to council@cityofelcampo.org by 2 p.m. Monday to become part of the permanent record. Other items before Council include:

Garbage concerns: City council will be talking trash again Monday, just one year into a three-year contract with Waste Connections. “Staffing is requesting council to provide direction on offering an extension or soliciting Requests for Proposals,” Sladek said.

In January 2019, council extended service for 96-gallon polycart bins twice a week using automated trucks. A proposal to have once-a-week trash and once-a-week recycling did not receive support.

With full automation, use of trash bags to supplement carts was shifted from standard service to part of brush pickup.

New Look For City: Working with the El Campo Chamber of Commerce and the City Development Corporation of El Campo, the city is looking for a new look. The rebranding would include logos, colors and patterns for signage.

“We have not hired a company yet. The rebranding is much like the effort in Wharton, we are planning on utilizing the same company that worked on their downtown logo,” Sladek said. “Sharing the cost with the CDC and Chamber will certainly help, but more importantly will allow continuity between the three agencies.”

Salute To Service: El Campo City Council is scheduled to offer an official salute to El Campo Police Sgt. Alonzo Gonzalez who is retiring after 40 years on patrol.

Other Action: The franchise agreement with Wharton County Electric Cooperative will be presented for approval, the ECPD racial profiling report and awarding of an engineering contract for a sanitary sewer line project via a Community Development Block Grant will be presented.

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