Agua SUD considers board appointment

Before appointing anyone to its vacant director position, members of the Agua Special Utility District Board of Directors agreed last week to seek recommendations from the city of Penitas.

The board has an open seat after Rigo Lopez resigned last month when he won his bid for mayor of Penitas. Agua SUD has 60 days to appoint a replacement to represent Penitas or residents could petition for a special election.

20150619 Rigo LopezBoard members agreed last week a special election would be too expensive.

New Executive Director Julio Cerda said he and Board President Ricardo Ochoa would meet with Penitas city leaders and try and have a recommendation by Agua SUD’s first meeting in July.

During public comment, resident Marilou Prudencio asked the board to consider Mario Chapa for the open seat. Chapa held the position until Lopez beat him in the 2014 election. Prudencio also presented a letter from another customer, Eloy David Gonzalez, who also recommended Chapa.

Prudencio pointed out Chapa is retired and has no work obligations. She also emphasized Chapa continued to attend Agua SUD meetings even after he was defeated in the 2014 election.

“I would like to also say that experience, integrity and the dedication is so important in any job or any projects,” Prudencio said. “He is really concerned for the community. Plus, he is from Penitas. I think it is great to have someone who really has interest.”

Also at last week’s meeting, General Manager Frank Flores said he received information from the Texas Water Development Board that contradicted a letter sent to Agua SUD attorney Eddie Lucio III last year.

The letter from a representative of the Texas Water Development Board presented by Lucio stated Agua SUD did not have to notify TWDB when Agua SUD made changes to its bylaws. Special utility districts, the letter stated, did not have to report to TWDB while water corporations are under different regulations.

When Lucio made his presentation in August of last year, Flores argued with him, stating that it was a stipulation of bond covenants with La Joya Water Supply Corporation when it was dissolved that TWDB be notified of bylaws changes, and thus, Agua SUD is subject to all of those agreements and commitments.

At the meeting last week, Flores said he sent copies of the documents to the Texas Water Development Board and the agency’s general counsel acknowledged that Agua SUD is in a unique situation because of the past receivership.

As a result, Lucio said he’d immediately send over orders made regarding the bylaws. The board has not amended the bylaws per se, he said, but it did issue an order stating all hiring and firing decisions had to be approved by the board, taking that sole power away from Flores.

Lucio said he called representatives of the Texas Water Development Board who told him all they are worried about is whether the board’s decisions are affecting the collateral on the state’s loans.

“They’ve actually put us on notice that any changes to the bylaws should be given to them,” Lucio said, adding that the TWDB would review it on an expedited basis. “But they said, ‘We are not in the business of trying to micromanage any entity.’”

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