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Mission city manager rescinds resignation, pledges transparency

In a dramatic turn, Mission City Manager Randy Perez called it quits over the Christmas holiday but was talked out of retiring in a special meeting last week — a situation that seems patently related to the city’s ongoing economic development corporation funding fiasco.

Perez wouldn’t, speaking to reporters last week, describe the EDC situation and his near-retirement as being explicitly related.

He did pledge, somewhat vaguely, to implement corrective action, be transparent and disclose information to the public after he rescinded his resignation at a special meeting last week.

The council had just gotten out of executive session, in which it was slated to discuss Perez’s retirement letter, a possible severance agreement and the appointment of an interim replacement.

“We’re here to clarify any information that needs to be clarified,” Perez told the public after announcing he was staying on.

Mayor Norie Garza called the outcome a win for the city.

“We had an extensive conversation…” she said. “So there was a lot of discussion, a lot of dialogue. And I think that at the end of the discussion, we have to do what’s best for the city of Mission — and right now what’s best for the city of Mission is to move forward and push through. And work through some corrective action.

The considered leadership change follows cash flow discussions prompted by the discovery of a few million dollars in sales tax money the city withheld from its economic development corporation.

Reporters asked Perez, pointed questions, about that situation last week after he announced he was staying on. 

He declined to get in the weeds, but offered to do so this week.

“It’s information that needs to be detailed and explained thoroughly,” he said.

Perez hadn’t done so by Wednesday, though he said he still intends to.

More information has come to light through open records requests filed by the Progress Times.

When the city’s debt to the EDC was discovered remains unclear; it certainly became a topic of conversation early last month.

The corporation told The Monitor last week that it was discovered by its newly hired finance officer.

It’s a little difficult to put a precise number on what the city owed the EDC when that debt became apparent. Correspondence obtained by the Progress Times through open records requests shows city leadership trying to come up with that number for itself last month.

A transfer made on December 8 says the city made about a $535,000 payment to the EDC related to those sales tax funds on a $4.478 million balance, although administrative correspondence prior to that transfer puts the corporation’s claim at about $3.4 million.

Last week, the city said it still owed the EDC $2.87 million.

Ezeiza Garcia, an assistant finance director, said in a message that she thought the city had been withholding EDC funds from April to September.

The issue appears to have garnered council attention early this month.

On December 7, Assistant City Manager Andy Garcia sent Councilman Ruben Plata an email regarding a liquidity and cash flow analysis related to EDC funds.

By the next day, at least some of the EDC board had become aware of the debt.

Noel Salinas, who sits on the board and was making a doomed bid for city council, told the Progress Times about it that evening.

Garza characterized his comments as politically motivated and disputed the city “withholding” funds from the EDC, though internal city correspondence uses that term.

Correspondence from the next day — a Saturday — shows staff looking for ways to rejigger their finances to pay the EDC debt.

“If these are funds that we do not typically receive and are out of the ordinary, then it would be additional cash flow we can apply to the claim on cash amount owed to the MEDC,” Assistant City Manager Andy Garcia wrote in an email that day to Perez and Finance Director Angie Vela.

At the time, the council was slated to meet that Wednesday and discuss finances in a special meeting.

That meeting never happened. It was canceled, and the city didn’t respond to questions about that cancellation.

Open records indicate that council members were instead asked individually to discuss finances that Monday.

All that seems to have built up to Perez making a presentation on corrective action related to the withheld funds last month. 

It wasn’t exceptionally lively. 

Perez didn’t elaborate on what led to corrective action being necessary. Garza said after the meeting that Salinas’ remarks to the Progress Times caused it.

Plata, however, said he found discrepancies in the presentation and said the council should consider the issue more, which it ultimately chose to do.

The council also discussed Perez behind closed doors in executive session that evening.

That agenda item caused enough of a stir that attendees openly discussed a possible shakeup in the lobby outside the council chambers.

The council took no action on Perez that night and didn’t discuss him in public.

Garza addressed rumors of Perez’s departure with the Progress Times last month, saying she wasn’t aware of his impending exit and wouldn’t be at liberty to comment if she was aware.

“I’m hoping that’s not true. He’s been a good city manager,” she said.

1 Comment

  1. jesus on January 10, 2024 at 1:54 pm

    He declined to get in the weeds, but offered to do so this week.

    “It’s information that needs to be detailed and explained thoroughly,” he said.

    Perez hadn’t done so by Wednesday, though he said he still intends to.

    The week is almost over, lets see how this new and improved version of the city manager provides this needed information. All this happened and no one faces any disciplinary action. People need to be held accountable for their actions. This is why Mission and its citizens are always last.

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