Charlotte City Council enters executive session twice

The Charlotte City Council regular meeting came to order on Thursday June 9 at 6:30 p.m. with Mayor Anna Estrada reminding all attending to silence cell phones and keep sidebar conversations to a minimum.

First on the agenda was the invocation which was lead by Mayor Protem Mark Wilson. Mayor Estrada reminded everyone that the community recently lost David Garcia who had previously served on the city council. The Pledge of Allegiance was said next followed by the pledge to the Texas flag. A quorum was met with all council members present, place 1 Zoraida Casarez, place 2, Christi Rankin; place 3, Patty Garza; place 4 John Heiligman; place 5 Mark Wilson and Mayor Anna Estrada.

There were no citizen comments. The next item on the agenda was to consider and approve all payables in the water and general fund, the item was approved. Minutes from the previous meeting were approved. Item agenda number 8 was regarding TXU Energy. The company was represented by Mark O’Brien and J.T. Harries, who was on vacation but joined the meeting via skype. The council voted to enter into agreement with TXU Energy for the City of Charlotte.

Dump Truck Discussed

Next on the agenda was a discussion on the city purchasing a 1998 dump truck from councilman Mark Wilson. He bought the truck from the Sheriff’s auction, made repairs to get the truck functional and would be willing to sell it to the city for exactly what he paid for it and what went into repair. Public Works Director Jorge Zuniga has previously looked into purchasing a dump truck to haul asphalt instead of putting excess, needless wear and tear on the backhoe and they were in the $23,000 to $30,000 range and not in the best shape. Neither options offer warranties. This vehicle is under the weight limit, so no CDL would be required. The truck also does not have air breaks therefore air break class is not required. Mr. Zuniga has also looked into more expensive trucks in better condition but they are priced in the $60,000 range and require CDL or air break class.

The question of whether there were any restrictions that would prohibit the city from making this type of purchase was asked to the city attorney, Jameene Williams. The council then went into executive session to discuss with the lawyer.

The council came out of executive session at 7:08 p.m., deciding to move that item to the end of the meeting to make the decision.

The next item discussed was building a porch outside of the municipal office for persons with disabilities to have easier access.

According to Judge Garcia, due to the small size of the construction job she was unable to obtain many bids for the project. The lawyer said that due to the size of the job multiple bids are not required. There were two bidders vying for the job, Robert Luna and Michael Gaitan. After discussion the item was tabled to gather more information from the potential contractors and lawyer on insurance and bonding requirements.

Social Media Discussed

Moving to item number 12, the council discussed the social media page for the City of Charlotte. A council member received a complaint regarding a photo being posted of a citizen without authorization on the City of Charlotte Facebook page. Council member Rankin stated that the city needs to okay a Facebook or Instagram page and to be sure that if they agree to have one that authorization is received before posting photos of residents. Mayor Estrada said the page that she started had very positive feedback. Rankin agreed, but said policies needed to be in place.

Hiring a part-time employee for maintenance department was next on the agenda. The mayor said hiring a part time person would help with summer mowing and other maintenance since the late Mr. Pete Zuniga retired. Currently Murrice Luna is working at the city landfill, the position Mr. Zuniga held. After summer is over, health permitting, Mr. Luna will be able to return to his regular full-time maintenance position and the new parttime employee would be able to assume the position at the landfill. After discussing pros and cons of an additional employee it was decided that a seasonal summer employee would be the best route. Christi Rankin motioned that the city hire a part time employee for seasonal work in the summer in the maintenance department, the first of June to the first of September and was seconded by Mark Wilson. The council agreed to advertise for a part-time employee, age 18 or over.

Discussed next was hiring a part-time position at the city library. The mayor stated it was reported that the library had 12 visitors in a two day period. She stated that the children typically come in after lunch and that a part time person could gain experience from working in the library. She said creating more jobs for local residents would benefit the community. Rankin said she saw no need for the small library to hold another person inside. Patty Garza said that if a person would be needed at the library, Mr. Luna could go over in the afternoon when the landfill is closed. The item was not approved.

Item number 15, discuss and take action on advertising for the position of library director and opening the position to city employees first then to the public next. Mayor Estrada expressed her desire to give the full-time city employees the opportunity to apply for that position first before it was opened to the public. The position is now being filled by Selma Guerrero. The item was tabled.

Raises Considered

Next discussed was the Mayor’s recommendation for a 3% raise for the following employees: Mario Felan, Theodore Guerrero, Hector Rodriguez, Leonard Gonzalez and Laura Morales. Mayor Estrada stated that these employees have done excellent jobs and she feels rewarding them with a raise would be appropriate. Garcia asked about Jorge Zuniga and Gracie Garcia. She stated they have gone above and beyond and that if a raise of 3% is given it should be to everybody or nobody. Mayor Estrada asked if this discussion could be taken into closed session. The lawyer stated that the employees in consideration have the right to be informed prior to the executive session and a right to object to that discucsion being held in closed session. She stated it could be done, but she advised against it because they had not been informed.

Estrada stated that she chose those employees because they are out in the field every week. Council member Garcia stated that those employees chose those positions and she said that Gracie Garcia has a full plate as well and Jorge Zuniga works in the heat every day also. She again said, everybody or nobody. She said each employee is capable and that she sees their work as well. She stated she isn’t sure why some would be picked over others to receive a raise. Mayor Estrada said she had just received many compliments about those employees. Rankin said she herself has received lots of compliments about Gracie and tons of compliments about Jorge. Rankin stated if the city wants to reward them they can do gift cards and do employees of the month, but a raise needs to be handled differently. Casarez stated that employee evaluations are needed.

Rankin made a motion that no action would be taken on the Mayor’s recommendation for a 3% raise for the following employees: Mario Felan, Theodore Guerrero, Hector Rodriguez, Leonard Gonzalez and Laura Morales. The motion carried.

Executive Session

Next was item number

18 where the council convened to executive session pursuant to Texas Government Code Section 551.071, Consultation with Attorney on the following: 1. To seek legal advice related to the termination of city librarian. 2. To seek legal advice relating to establishing a grievance procedure for terminated employees.At 9:05 p.m. the council resumed open session. Christi Rankin made a motion to move to appoint a grievance committee to convene and consider the recent disciplinary termination of former city librarian Lisa Burbirdge. The motion carried.

City Reports

Next on the agenda was reports. Mayor Estrada said that some alleyways need attention. She mentioned a brush and tire collection would be one option. She stated that the employees are doing a great job keeping up with the alleys. She said that there have been a few counseling sessions with employees to discuss how employees and coworkers are doing. She said Murrice Luna’s supervision at the landfill has been beneficial to making sure people are paying the correct fees for dumping. They have provided him with wifi connection. The mayor also provided a website that offers training for council members.

Jorge Zuniga gave an update on the landfill, he said that a 300 gallon septic tank has been installed at the landfill.

City Secretary Gracie Garcia stated that there was a raffle drawing for the library. The council discussed future agenda items being added.

Next, regarding the dump truck council advised that the truck may be purchased with an affidavit. According to Jorge Zuniga the truck is in good shape. It has good tires, hoses, breaks, etc. A motion was made to purchase the 1999 dump truck, the motion passed.

Meeting adjourned at 9:18 p.m.

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