Councilman questions EIC intent to hire economic development director
by Gary Kent
Jun 13, 2010 | 1613 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During the council members’ comments at the end of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Councilman David Carabajal said the Beeville Economic Improvement Corporation board is “putting the cart before the horse” in its apparent intent to hire an economic development director.

Carabajal was talking about an EIC subcommittee meeting held the previous night during which three EIC voted to send a list of five economic development director semifinalists to the entire EIC board so the board could chose a smaller number of finalists.

Those five, Emett Alvarez, Oscar Ramirez, Molly Young, Becky Johnson and Mary Martinez, were approved by subcommittee members Brenda Treviño, Jessy T. Garza and Mike Marshall.

The finalists are then to be interviewed by City Manager Tom Ginter, who will make the final decision.

But Carabajal was concerned about the process because he had not known the EIC was asking for applicants for a position.

“We approve everything over $10,000,” Carabajal said of the EIC board’s ability to recommend spending of more than $10,000 on a single project.

He said apparently the EIC board had not asked the City Council if it could use between $50,000 and $70,000, of the approximately $600,000 a year it oversees, to pay an economic director’s salary.

“We haven’t got to that point,” Ginter told the council, stressing the fact that the city is not yet ready to hire anyone for the position.

Ginter said what the city had done is advertise the position and it has received 20 or 21 résumés. “They’ve been narrowed down to five,” he said. “These candidates do not know that they are one of the five.”

Ginter told the council members that he had spoken to “a couple of the EIC members and they know you have to approve anything over $10,000.”

The city manager told council members that, “theoretically, you could say no if you don’t like their candidate for whatever reason.”

Ginter said council members could also refuse to approve the expenditure for whatever reason.

The city manager recommended that the council place an item on its next agenda to discuss whether the majority of its members are interested in approving the funding for an economic development director.

“Let me start with me just saying I need help,” Ginter told the council. “I just need help.”

Ginter said the duties of keeping up with the administrative needs of the EIC board are taking a lot of his time.

But Carabajal was concerned about the EIC board’s apparent failure to check with the council before asking for applications from people interested in the position.

“They’re putting the cart before the horse,” Carabajal said again.

Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez, Jr. then recommended that the council place an item on a future agenda for further comment on the issue.

But some council members said they would not be able to attend the June 22 meeting. Eventually, the council decided to add the item to an agenda for a meeting they are planning for June 29.

Carabajal asked Ginter to bring his recommendation on the matter to that meeting. Again, he expressed concern that he had not been told of the EIC board’s intent to request résumés.

Martinez said he only knew the board was seeking applicants for the position because he had read it in the Corpus Christi newspaper.

Councilman John Fulghum also expressed concern about the matter.

“We haven’t even approved it,” he said of the EIC’s interest in creating a position.

“Remember,” Ginter said, “they haven’t hired anybody either.”

The downside, Carabajal said of the action taken so far, “is you don’t post a position” before you have the approval to pay the salary.

The EIC board reviews requests from businesses and organizations for grants from the approximately $600,000 in 4B sales tax funds collected by the city each year and makes recommendations to the City Council for final approval.

The 4B tax is a half-cent tax on sales made within the city and must be spent only for certain purposes as defined in the legislation that allows cities to collect it.

Beeville actually collects about $800,000 a year from the tax. But voters recently approved allowing a quarter of that amount to be placed in a street maintenance fund to keep up existing city streets.

This summer the city is expected to use some of that money to finance its first seal coating effort in three years.
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