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After missing eight meetings, Agua SUD board member could be removed

A member of the Agua Special Utility District board of directors may be removed after failing to attend meetings for the past eight months.

Director Adolfo Arriaga of La Joya hasn’t attended a utility board meeting since January, when he left for the Texas Department of Public Safety Academy in Austin.

Arriaga missed six board meetings while he attended the academy. After he graduated, Arriaga missed two more.

“At the end of the day, it’s his decision,” said utility board Director Ivan Sandoval, adding that he didn’t know if Arriaga would rejoin the board.

The Department of Public Safety assigned Arriaga to Hebbronville, according to documents released under the Texas Public Information Act. He reports to a Highway Patrol Division sergeant.

Arriaga declined to comment.

“I need to speak to him,” said utility board President Homer Tijerina. “I need to talk to him to see what his plans are.”

Section 7201 of the Special District Local Laws Code, which governs Agua SUD, allows the utility board to remove members who miss “one-half or more of the regularly scheduled meetings during the preceding 12 months.”

Before anyone is actually removed, the utility board must adopt procedures “designed to provide due process,” according to the law. The procedures must include notice to the board member faced with removal and a public hearing.

After meeting the requirements, the utility board may remove a member with a majority vote.

Arriaga isn’t the only member of the Agua SUD board who missed a significant number of meetings.

Director Cesar Rodriguez Jr. of Mission didn’t attend regularly scheduled utility board meetings in January, March, April, June and August. He also skipped the regularly scheduled board meeting in October 2020.

With six absences during the past 12 months, Rodriguez also meets the threshold for removal. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Director Lloyd Loya of Peñitas didn’t attend regularly scheduled utility board meetings in January, February, April, June and July. If Loya misses one more regularly scheduled meeting before January 2022, he could be removed too.

Loya didn’t respond to requests for comment.

No other member of the utility board had problems with absenteeism during the past 12 months.

The problem created by absences became apparent last week, when just four of the seven utility board members showed up for the September meeting.

Four members is a quorum — the minimum number required to hold a meeting.

Arriaga, Director Maribel Diaz and Director Esmeralda H. Solis apparently weren’t available. Sandoval, Rodriguez, Loya and Tijierina showed up.

Loya, however, had a family commitment and couldn’t stay long. As soon as he left the room, the utility board would lose quorum and be forced to adjourn.

“Director Loya adjusted his plans so we could have this meeting and get the business done today that absolutely has to be done,” said attorney Matthew R. Beatty of Austin-based law firm Beatty Navarre Strama, which represents the utility district. “So thanks to Mr. Loya for doing that.”

To accommodate Loya’s schedule, the utility board abandoned most of the agenda, including “establishing a process for consideration and interview for General Manager position” and an update on the long-delayed Palmview sewer project.

Members of the board focused on four items, which they passed with minimal discussion. The abbreviated meeting took about 10 minutes.

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