CVB, EDC gave council few answers Monday night

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

City of Alice officials questioned expenditures by the Alice Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Alice/Jim Wells Economic Development Corporation during an Alice council meeting Monday, but were left with few answers.

City Manager Albert Uresti and finance director Hector Hinojosa informed council that a review of the Alice Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Alice Chamber of Commerce had revealed some apparent inconsistencies for which city staff could not account.

Alice CVB Board President Yvette Johnson told the council Monday she was aware of the apparent inconsistencies, and said the board was reviewing the budget.

"I honestly feel it's just a line item issue," Johnson said. "All that I'm asking from the council is some time to restructure this."

Johnson asked the council to meet with the CVB on Sept. 20 in a special meeting to review the questions raised by the city, after the CVB has had an opportunity to review its budget.

Alice Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez urged both sides to work through the problem, but said she expected answers from the CVB.

"My message to the chamber board is to take care of their responsibilities," Saenz-Lopez said.

City Manager Albert Uresti also informed council that requests for required information from the Alice/Jim Wells County Economic Development Corporation had not been met.

EDC representatives Dean Kruckenberg and Mike Day informed council Monday the information had been provided, including answers to more than 20 questions sent by email to the EDC from the city last week.

Uresti and the EDC representatives are scheduled to meet to discuss the issue later this week.

In other budget business, the council also voted to accept proposed fee changes in the Parks and Recreation Department and to approve fee changes in the city's water and sewer rates and tapping rates for new connections. Water and sewer rates were increased by 9.8 percent to fund repayment of the bond voters passed in May to repair the city's water and wastewater infrastructure.

In other business, the council voted to approve self-monitoring standards for the city's After School Action Programs. The standards are required by the State of Texas because the programs are not licensed as a day care facility, according to information presented by staff.

The council also authorized the city manager to enter into an agreement for building and plumbing inspections in the city.

The council also authorized the city manager to negotiate and enter into an agreement with Verizon Wireless to lease space on one of the city's water towers to the company for the placement of wireless equipment.

The council also voted to appoint Georgia Uribe to the Skate Park Feasibility Committee, Gonzalo Rodriguez to the Recycling Committee and Pete Beltran and Corina Guerra to the Keep Alice Beautiful Commission.

The council tabled the following items Monday:

Consider and act upon an ordinance adopting the budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2007 and ending Sept. 30, 2008 and revising the budget for the preceding fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2007. Consider and act upon an ordinance levying taxes and setting the tax rate for the use and support of the municipal government of the City of Alice, Texas, and providing a sinking fund for the retirement of bond debt of said city.

The city is expected to give final approval to the budget during its Sept. 24 meeting.

Discuss, consider and act upon ordinances of the City of Alice, Texas, amending the Code of Ordinances, relating to all departments, by the enactment of new provisions under "fees", "charges", "fines", "deposits", "surcharges", "rates", and/or "penalties"; providing savings and separability clauses; revoking all ordinances in conflict therewith; providing effective dates; and incorporating changes into Appendix "C" entitled Fee Schedule, including, but not limited to: water and sewer tap fees, pool fees, park facilities fees, golf course fees and water and sewer rates. Consider and act upon establishing a process to waive City of Alice refuse disposal fees for senior or incapacitated residents of the City of Alice, whose homesteads have been condemned due to catastrophic events, and who are rebuilding on the same property; these waivers shall not apply to those residences with homeowners insurance or receive other compensation/reimbursement covering such catastrophic events.

The item was tabled to allow staff and the city attorney to clarify the details of the proposed policy.