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City proposes rate increases; water, sewer

The City of Kingsville Commission held a Special Meeting Tuesday, September 7 to discuss introduction ordinances on a number of items, which will be voted on in the next city meeting.

Among the introduction items is an increase in water and sewer rates for the City of Kingsville. Finance Director Deborah Balli told commissioners during the meeting that a 1% increase was discussed during the budget workshop, which was based on a rate study conducted by Grady Reed of HDR. Kingsville City Manager Mark McLaughlin told the commissioners the increase is something that should have been made last year.

"The rate increase was actually deferred a year. We should have done it last year but we did not. We're just catching up with it this year so we don't fall too far behind," McLaughlin said all the money generated will go into the Capital Improvement Fund 54 (street and drainage).

In addition, the commissioners introduced an ordinance that would increase sewer rates by 7% based on the same study previously mentioned. Another ordinance that was introduced is one amending the City of Kingsville Code of Ordinances Section 9-10-53, 55, 56, and 57 to update fees and calculation method used for the purpose of funding the City Street System.

City of Kingsville Engineer Rudy Mora told the commissioners the purpose of the revision is to increase funding for street repairs. The calculation system used, Mora said, is based on a point value system.

"So if you fall within a certain point value and those point values are distributed to tiers," Mora said.

Originally, there were 11 tiers, Mora said and two more tiers are being proposed. By adding two new tiers, there will be separation between different types of businesses.

"(The new tiers) will impact about 26 business owners," Mora said.

Commissioner Hector Hinojosa commented that it is a complicated formula but he was glad everyone would now be able to pay their fare share.

"(My) recommendations would be the increase to the equivalent residential unit from $5 to $6, secondly would be reduce the trip factor adjustment percentage from 90 to 85 percent, and that would create two new tiers," Mora told commissioners adding it would raise the monthly fee to a maximum of $500 and below that would be $250.

Mora said this proposed increase would generate a quarter of a million dollars for street repairs.

"Our normal annual collection for Street User Fee is about $800,000 a year," McLaughlin said.

These changes are beng proposed as a way to catch up and to be able to make the necessary street repairs that are needed, McLaughlin told commissioners.

A public hearing was also held for a proposed tax rate decrease from $0.85208 to $0.84000 for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. The $0.84000 will be an increase in the no new revenue rate of $0.80651. A vote will be held on the tax rate on September 13, 2021. The next city commission meeting will be held Monday, September 13 at 5pm at the Helen Kleberg Groves Community Room located at 400 West King Avenue.

Fire Dept. Captain shares memory from 9/11

Twenty years ago, four hijacked planes carried out attacks on the United States. Islamic extremists known as Al Qaeda were responsible for the attacks.

Two planes struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third struck the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C., and a fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. The 9/11 terrorist attacks killed more than 2,500 and left an indelible memory in the minds of Americans and the world. During the aftermath, volunteers from all over the country traveled to ground zero and surrounding areas to help in any way they could.

City of Kingsville Fire Department Captain Miguel Sandoval was one of three Kingsville Firefighters who was tapped to help in New York City.

On the day the towers fell, Sandoval remembers he and his shift were scheduled for Hazmat training but after the news began to come about the tragedy, he said everyone was glued to the set for the rest of the day, finding it hard to come to terms with what had just happened.

Sandoval was only in his second year as a Kingsville Firefighter when he and fellow firefighters, Joey Mendietta and Ryan Kelly, were asked if they wanted to help out following the 9/11 attacks.

"A (firefighter) volunteer from Ricardo was from over there," Sandoval said. "He lived in a little town north of Manhattan."

Sandoval said the volunteer firefighter was organizing a relief effort for his town's fire department because they had left to help at ground zero.

"The firefighters from his town had all gone to New York to man the fire stations because the firefighters were all at ground zero," he said.

All arrangements were made and six days after the attacks, the three headed to New York.

Once there, Sandoval said they helped the station for a few days before they were able to head to ground zero and help out for the next week.

"We stayed at the fire station for two days and then the firefighters came back," he said. "Once they came back, we went to ground zero to see how we could help." Sandoval remembers the day being cloudy and rainy. Many people were helping out as best they could.

Among the duties they performed was taking down a decontamination unit and helped load and unload equipment to different areas of the city.

"Helping out in New York is something I am very proud of," he said.

Rocks to bring kindness to the community

Thousands of painting rocks with inspirational sayings have been spread throughout Kingsville over the past six years.

Kingsville resident Joni Collins started this 'Kindness Rock' project after hearing about her friend in Florida who found a painted rock at the beach.

Collins has been spreading kindness throughout Kingsville with her inspirational rocks for more than six years; she said she hasn't told anyone about hiding them until last year.

Collins said it started to get fun, so she created a Facebook page that people could follow and post pictures of the rocks that they find throughout the community.

She said people tell her all the time 'it was the worst day in the world but then I found one of your rocks', she said. She loves hearing about others experience.

Collins said she gets enjoyment seeing other people find her rocks. Her proudest moment was when she left a rock that said 'You Matter' on a police car. She waited for him to find it and he was excited when he did.

Thursday evening, Collins posted on the Kingsville Community page that she was hiding rocks throughout the community on Friday.

Collins said she has received a lot of comments and feedback from her post and she was not expecting this kind of reaction.

One community member even commented that he found one of her rocks 'a long time ago' at the post office.

"I'm going to tear up just thinking about it because I made somebody's day and he still kept it," Collins said.

Yes, I shed a tear when I read that."

Friday was Collins day off and she spent it by running errands and hiding rocks at different parks, historic downtown Kingsville, the post office, library and different plac

es she ran errands. Collins even leaves rocks at the gas pump every time she goes to the gas station.

After Collins hides the rocks, she takes a picture and post it to her Facebook page and Snapchat.

She said she tries to take pictures that allow people to have an idea of where it is.

Some of Collins rocks have her Facebook page information on the back to encourage people to follow her page and post pictures of their rocks.

Collins said when she first starts painting rocks, her first rock always says 'patience'.

"I have a lot of rocks that say 'patience', because that's probably what I lack the most," she said.

Every Wednesday, Collins watches her cousin's husband, who is a preacher in Georgia, on Facebook live to get motivational quotes and sayings to put on her rocks; she also gets ideas from Pinterest and Bible verses.

"When I write on these [rocks], a lot of times the words that I choose are meant for me and I know for a fact that I'm not the only one that feels this way, Collins said.

"I get just as much enjoyment writing it and I kind of feel relief too, just writing it."