Poteet City Council passes audit with several recommendations

The annual audit for the year 2010 was presented to the Poteet City Council at their first regular meeting on February 6. Larry Cantu stepped in as mayor since Roy Ybarra was not present. Other council members who were at the meeting were Denise Sanchez, Jesse Sisnero, Gerard Herrera and Raymond Leal.

Wayne Beyer said that the audit received an unqualified opinion letter, which is the highest that can be given. Going over some of the figures, he said there was $351,528 in the general fund balance at the time of the audit. The library account had $187,472 and the city had $146,000 cash in the bank. The current liability is higher than the assets and there was a loss in the utility fund. The debt for the city was average, according to Beyer.

However, there were several things that the auditing company suggested the city correct. They do not get copies of the checks back from the bank, some employees and supervisors are not signing the time cards and bills should be paid in a timely manner. Out of a sampling of 20 deposits, three were made to the wrong bank accounts. They also suggested that the Municipal Court use either manual or computerized receipts to prevent errors. Other problems cited were the fact the city has no certified investment officer and they found contracts signed by the city, but not by the bank.

One main concern was the fact that bank accounts are not reconciled by the month, so the general ledger is not up to date. They felt this was sloppy work and needed to be corrected. City Administrator

Lanell Matthews said that most of those things had been corrected. The Municipal Court Judge, Rosalinda de la Fuente, added that they were using the computer receipts exclusively now.

Dr. Ron Mixon approached the council about the renewal of the contract with the Strawberry Festival. Currently, the Festival gives 3.5% of their earnings back to the city. The city is requesting an increase to 4% with a three-year contract. The motion passed to accept the contract with those changes; Sanchez and Herrera abstained.

The city council agreed to accept McCoy Water as an emergency backup for the Poteet ISD.

Jon Kunkle from Global Water Resources showed a short power point describing the benefits of using his company for water management. Basically, they are a web based database that can give hourly readings on meters and usage and they do the billing and collecting for the utility. Any potential troubles with the water system is recognized so the city can be pro-active instead of reactive. For example, it can recognize leaks and compare usage amounts to prevent problems from developing. There is no upfront capital for their services and their service will increase revenue and decrease cost.

They offer seven ways to pay, 24/7 service calls and even have a smart phone app. They do not take over the utility from the city, but offer services to them to better manage their accounts and plants. This presentation was for information only.

Up next was Krista Sherwood, a representative of the National Park Service discussing the Camino Real project.

She is there to provide assistance on this community driven project. There have already been several planning and community meetings for the grant. A “Trailblazers” support group has been developed and works within the Poteet Community Forum. A conceptional plan was given to the city staff in November and work can begin after an archeological survey is completed.

The city has received a grant to redo the ground storage tank #9, to rehab the booster pumps and improve the water supply. Rakowitz Engineering has presented a contract to manage this grant through an engineering and architectural service agreement. The council unanimously approved hiring Rakowitz.

There are vehicles and equipment that is not being used by the city because they are in bad repair or too old, such as a dump truck and a patching trailer. Matthews passed around a list of items she would like to sell by putting out requests for bids for the surplus property. Council agreed unanimously.

City Attorney Frank Garza was directed by the mayor at a previous meeting to come up with a speed bump policy. The gist of the policy is that the city will do speed bumps only when money is available. Motion passed unanimously.

Council decided to put a new transmission in the police reserve vehicle in the amount of $2,950 which is guaranteed for three years.

Leal thinks that there is no communication between the city administrator and the council members and some council members are not talking. He emphasized that it is important for them to work together as a team.

The council voted to go ahead with advertising for the position of Police Chief. Currently they are short a sergeant patrol officer and a school safety officer and the investigator is acting as interim chief.

The council went into closed session at 7:35. Upon returning at 7:47 p.m., they voted unanimously to amend the budget to give a 53 cent an hour raise to the utility billing clerk, bringing her up to $9 per hour, and assigning her additional duties.

Various department heads gave reports for the month of December:

The Police Department reported 205 service calls in December. There were 12 arrests and one juvenile detained. A couple of the police cars are still unmarked, but the letters have been ordered. The number of cases went down from 2010 with 900 to 2011 with 764.

Municipal Court heard 27 new cases, one for parking and eight for state ordinance. The amount of fines collected was $7,273.10, 25-30% of which goes to the state. The remainder goes into the general fund. The judge requested that they be allowed to join the Warrant Roundup that goes from February 13 to March 4. There are over 700 violations on the books, with about $700,000 owed.

The Waterworks department figures for disconnects and water taps were given to the council.

The Library report was for the full quarter. The Friends of the Library held a Fall Festival and raffle, which went well. They are working on an inventory now. Attendance at the library broke down to 910 in October, 865 in November and 913 in December.

The sales tax revenue is ahead of last year. The tax collection is not as fast as last year, but coming in steadily. They will begin on the 2011 audit now that the 2010 has been approved.

Matthews said that there were five bids for the archeological survey, with one coming in the lowest at $12,276. The review of the USDA grant is underway. The SEBCO grant has paid for the roof and spray insulation on the “new” city hall, as well as the items at the wastewater plant. No one has applied for the sewer plant operator, but two employees are testing on Friday for their certification. The revenue from the new gaming room is $20,000.

The floor was opened for the citizen’s comments. Richard Franklin asked if permits were issued for the demolition of the buildings behind the Catholic Church, since nothing has been cleaned up in the last six months. He encouraged the city to carry out good business practices, such as having the hard copy checks returned to them. The Trail Riders did a benefit for the library a long time ago and the city has still not accounted for the money and they have not received it.

Mary Beth Topp addressed the council saying that she did not think Matthews was doing a good job. She had not received copies of records that she had paid for. Her home was broken into on December 25, which should not have happened if there had been enough officers on duty. Matthews’ behavior, not being at work Monday through Friday, shows a lack of respect for the town. She called for her immediate termination.

Meeting adjourned at 8:22 p.m.

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