For the first time in two years, the Agua Special Utility District has a general manager, signaling new leadership for the utility district.
Richard LeFevre was appointed by the Agua SUD board of directors to serve as its interim general manager during a special board meeting Sept. 22. The appointment came after Executive Director Oscar Cancino announced in a board meeting Monday, Sept. 18 he was resigning from the water corporation that provides water and wastewater services to more than 14,500 customers in western Hidalgo County.
The general manager position had existed since the creation of Agua SUD in 2005, according to Mario Chapa, who served as board president from 2010 through 2014. The original position was filled by Frank Flores who stepped down in 2015 after the position of executive director was created that same year to oversee the general manager. The position of general manager has been vacant since then.
LeFevre, an engineer who serves as president of the McAllen-based firm, LeFevre Engineering & Management Consulting, LLC, said after the meeting he’s worked as city engineer for several cities across the Rio Grande Valley, including Sullivan City, Peñitas, Alton and Weslaco, among others. The board approved his appointment without any discussion.
The sole dissenting vote against LeFevre’s appointment came from board Vice President Homero Tijerina. Tijerina explained he voted against LeFevre because the board failed to thoroughly discuss his qualifications.
“I’ve heard he works for other cities as their engineer and if that’s the case, how does he plan to put 100 percent into our district,” Tijerina asked. “We need someone here who can work full time and this is the first I’ve heard of him.”
Following the meeting LeFevre told the Progress Times his background is in water and wastewater and has worked with the city of Weslaco for the expansion of a wastewater plant. He previously worked at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and was an investigator with Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
Despite his company being contracted by Peñitas, LeFevre said he’d take a step back from those duties for Agua SUD to ensure he’d be able to dedicate his time to the utility. He said his company’s vice president would be his company’s representative for Peñitas during his interim employment with the utility.
“Ultimately our goal is to provide customer service, we’re a service provider. Is there a way we can make it better?” LeFevre said. “We’re going to find out. We have a lot of things on our plate right now and I just want to move forward and go from there.
Cancino, whose position of executive director is being phased out, will remain with Agua SUD to help with the transition until a permanent general manager has been appointed. The board of directors will be accepting applications for the permanent position and approved a set of qualifications at the Sept. 22 board meeting that will be included in the advertised job posting.