Weslaco schedules drainage town hall for Thursday

The city of Weslaco scheduled a town hall meeting for Thursday afternoon to update community members about proposed drainage projects.

The Weslaco citizens drainage task force, appointed by the city commission, began meeting in October, four months after flooding damaged homes, businesses and schools throughout portions of Hidalgo County.

During the town hall, Halff Associates, a contracted engineering firm, and the drainage task force will present potential drainage projects the team has identified.

On Oct. 23, the drainage task force members, a group of volunteers led by Chairman Randy Hall, reviewed maps drafted by the engineering firm, which used 2-D modeling technology to identify drainage improvements that would best alleviate or reduce flooding in Weslaco.

The task force volunteers were asked to look at the overall picture, not just improvements benefiting their neighborhoods.

“Let’s look at the betterment of the community, try to fix it, because we are going to do the best we can with the money we have,” Halff Associates Project Manager Miles Bullion told the task force during the October meeting. “You all are making the decisions, not us.”

As part of Thursday’s forum, drainage task force volunteers along with Halff Associates representatives will disperse throughout the chamber to answer questions from residents, who also may submit written comments or feedback about the proposed project projects. Written questions will also be accepted and answered accordingly.

Though Weslaco City Commission members are scheduled to attend the forum, the body will not take action Thursday on the proposed drainage projects. Any anticipated action items dealing with drainage improvements will be placed on a city commission meeting agenda at a later date.

The Weslaco City Commission could call for a bond election or propose a fee added to water bills to pay for costly drainage projects.

In January 2018, the McAllen City Commission adopted a formula-based fee, which ranges from $1 to $75 a month, dependent on square footage of homeowners property, for its projects. The collected fees go into a fund used to pay for widening of ditches and creation of storm water detention facilities to alleviate flooding.

On Oct. 4, the Weslaco City Commission approved borrowing $4 million through certificates of obligation, which is used in part to pay the engineering firm it contracted.

The drainage projects forum begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at Weslaco City Hall.