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MISSION — The Mission Economic Development Authority (MEDA) will not be able to deliver on the Mission City Council’s order to turn over all its assets to the city by May 15, according to former MEDA President/CEO Pat Townsend Jr.
MEDA’s inventory of assets, as of March 31, shows the corporation has net assets of $5,022,035, including $3,098,978 in cash and $1,870,531 in land consisting of lots in the organization’s industrial park.
On March 28 the council ordered MEDA to prepare an inventory of assets and to turn over all the corporation’s assets to the city by May 15. The council also said the city would assume all existing obligations of MEDA. Townsend said the major assets would not be turned over to the city until the two parties sit down and work out an agreement. He said the city council’s mandate that MEDA be de-funded and dissolved “as soon as possible” does not allow the board to properly address their fiduciary responsibilities.
“There’s got to be a different approach taken to the resolution or else it won’t get resolved,” he said.
According to Townsend, the problem from the very beginning, when the city council voted on Feb. 18 to stop all funding to MEDA and dissolve the organization, was that this was a directive without any prior consultation to determine how to best achieve the desired results. Orders were given and City Manager Julio Cerda and City Attorney David Guerra were charged with carrying out the council’s directive, despite the MEDA board’s objections that they cannot simply shut down the corporation without setting up a means to take care of the private corporation’s contracts and obligations. Legal issues need to be worked out, agreements need to be reached between the city and MEDA and legal documents need to be drafted outlining the terms of agreement. The city manager and city attorney alone have not been able to work these issues out. Townsend said the council and the MEDA board need to discuss the obstacles and work out an agreement to address the concerns of the board.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas said, “We sent [MEDA] a letter telling them to turn all the assets that belong to the citizens of Mission over to the city...We, as a city, have got to do what is best for the citizens of Mission.”
“David Guerra is our city attorney. All they have to do is sit down with David. We will abide by anything they want, as long as they protect those properties and those monies that really belong to the citizens of Mission. I don’t know how in the world they can justify them keeping them,” said the mayor.
Salinas said he has asked the city council and the city manager to not spend their time dealing with this issue.
“It’s going to have to be David [Guerra] – and myself if [Townsend] wants to. We’ll take care of all the obligations that they think we should take care of. It’s not that we don’t want to do that. I don’t want to do anything that’s going to hurt them. We want to do what’s right. I am willing to sit down with him and David. They can do it with David; they can sit down with Bob Galligan, two great lawyers – as long as we have the same thing in mind – to protect those assets that belong to the city and to protect what they have as far as liability,” he said.
While MEDA this week vacated its leased office space and has turned the lease over to the city, even the seemingly simple transfer of office furnishings and equipment is being held up by the procurement process the city is obligated to follow. The four former MEDA employees, who are now employees of the city, are currently being temporarily officed at city hall, rather than in the former MEDA suite in the TexaSweet building.
MEDA has reduced its staff from five full-time employees, including Townsend, to just one part-time employee – Townsend, who was released as president/CEO, then hired the next day, April 16, as assistant secretary and assistant treasurer to handle the day-to-day duties of the corporation.
MEDA reduced the size of its board from 15 voting members to seven, effective March 22. On May 9, following the resignations of Mayor Norberto Salinas, Keith Moore and Keith Padilla, the bylaws were amended again, reducing the board to five members and eliminating the position of mayor of Mission as a specified board member. Townsend was appointed to fill Moore’s unexpired term at the board’s April 25 meeting.
“We’ve whittled down the board and have done some things to try to cooperate with where they want to go with new economic development activities and we’re doing as much as we can not to create a problem,” Townsend said.
But Townsend maintains that it’s not possible to do some of the things the way the city wants it done. The MEDA board’s legal advice has been consistent since the beginning and through two law firms, he said. What the council has mandated is contrary to the fiduciary responsibilities of the board.
Regarding when Townsend expects MEDA can turn everything over to the city, he said, “We’re still in the wind-down process. In my opinion it will last … at least through September 30, because we had part of the fiscal year that was fully employed and fully funded. And trying to get things ready to have an independent audit at the end of September, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Recent MEDA Actions
April 14 – Keith Moore resigns from MEDA board
April 15 – Pat Townsend Jr. steps down as MEDA President/CEO; All four MEDA employees hired by City of Mission, excluding Townsend, who refused the offer
April 16 – Townsend hired by MEDA as assistant secretary and assistant treasurer, part-time
Mid-April – Mission Mayor Norberto Salinas resigns from MEDA board
April 25 – Townsend is appointed to replace Keith Moore on board
April 25 – Keith Padilla resigns from MEDA after board meeting
May 9 – MEDA reorganizes board again, reducing size from seven to five members, eliminating Mission mayor as designated board member
Remaining MEDA Board Members
Robert Goodwin, President
Ben Olivarez, Vice-President
Pat Townsend Jr.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.