The Palmview city council approved an ordinance at their Tuesday meeting annexing around 400 acres into the city. However, the city council voted to make the ordinance take effect next summer instead of the standard 15 days it normally takes for an ordinance to take effect.
The property is located in the city’s center and has 1,600 residents and 17 commercial properties and will bring in around $240,000 in revenues to the city after expenditures, according to the city’s service plan. The United States Census Bureau states city’s current population is just under 6,000 residents.
“The advantage of waiting to enact the ordinance is so the city does not have to provide the services until then,” interim City Manager Leonardo Olivares told the city council. “We don’t have the financial resources to immediately provide services such as police, fire protection and emergency medical services to those residents but by next July these residents will be able to vote and run for city council. They’re essentially citizens of Palmview.”
Olivares recommended the city make the ordinance go into effect June 30, 2018 as the county appraisal district needs to know what properties are outside and inside the city limits by July 1, 2018.
Olivares said after the meeting the city is preparing for a second round of annexations for the south side of the city which will be voted on next month.
During the meeting, Olivares also announced that City Attorney Ricardo Perez turned in a letter of resignation Monday. According to Olivarez, Perez wrote in his letter that he was leaving because he felt “it was better to resign” but did not elaborate. The council appointed Pharr-based attorney Gustavo Acevedo to replace Perez.
“(Acevedo) has experience in municipal court and the public entity and knows about open records and meetings,” Olivares said. “His experience will make it easy to get the work done. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Acevedo told the city council he exclusively represents school districts and cities and has been licensed as a lawyer for 29 years. He was not immediately available for an interview.
During the meeting Olivares also introduced Annette Villarreal, the city’s new secretary, to the council. Villarreal, who served as McAllen’s city secretary for 11 years, started working for Palmview on Monday, she said.
Villarreal replaces former City Secretary Bertha Garza, who was fired from her position during a September city council meeting.
“I’m hoping to bring my experience and knowledge of being in a big city into Palmview,” Villarreal said after the meeting. She added that she retired from the city of McAllen in 2015 to spend more time with family but had been wanting to get back to work for a while now.
Villarreal, who will have a salary of nearly $49,000, according to Olivares, said during the interview process she was made aware of a few problems the city has had including the lack of important documentation such as records of executive session discussions during the past four years. However, she said her experience with statutory aspects of the job such as open meetings and working with open records and public information will prevent those issues.
In other business, the city council unanimously approved allowing the city’s finance director, Rachel Chapa, to move forward with conducting an internal forensic audit. Chapa also provided the council an update on possible litigation against an accountant the city hired two years ago.
Chapa explained to the council how she wasn’t comfortable with the city spending money on hiring an external auditor to conduct the city’s forensic audit, which carries a price tag off $60,000 to $100,000. As a result, Chapa said she plans to take a look at the items in the audit to determine if an external auditor should be hired or see if she could do the audit herself.
“The burden on the city would be too much to pay for both the normal annual audit and the forensic audit. I’m confident I can handle it,” she said, adding that a timeline for the forensic audit should be presented to the council by the next meeting.
Chapa also announced to the council she received a response from Frank Rodriguez, the accountant the city hired in 2015 to complete a list of the city’s fixed assets for nearly $16,000. Rodriguez never turned in the report, Chapa said.
Last month, Chapa wrote a letter to Rodriguez demanding a refund from the uncompleted project and threatened to pursue legal action against him if he didn’t respond within 10 days.
According to Chapa, Rodriguez personally delivered a letter to her office promising to deliver the report by Nov. 10, something Chapa said she’s not satisfied with as the fixed asset list was completed internally and the city wants its money back.
“If I don’t receive a check from him with the $15,500 within 30 days, we’re pursuing litigation against him,” Chapa said.
The city council also elected Javier Ramirez to serve as the city’s mayor pro-tem. He replaces Joselito “Hoss” Hernandez.