Council squabbles over mayor’s action
by Tim Delaney
May 23, 2014 | 308 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
REFUGIO – The Refugio City Council reluctantly approved action taken by the mayor when an overflow accident occurred at the wastewater plant on April 22.

Mayor Joey Heard was not at the council’s May 13 meeting, but when the wastewater overflow incident occurred, he deemed the situation an emergency and moved quickly to get the problem fixed.

Heard cited the Government Code to make the decision: Section 252.022, which states an emergency can be called when repairs were “necessary to preserve or protect the public health or safety of the municipality’s residents.”

ADK Environmental Inc. of Odem took on the job and fixed the system, finding an obstruction in the aerator basin. However, more problems with the system were discovered, and the company continues to work on the site.

Heard had estimated that the cost would be a minimum of $150,000.

Heard said the repair cost would have to come out of the general fund because the wastewater system budget had been depleted.

But council members Lenny Anzaldua and Dale Skrobarcek at the May 13 meeting said Heard should have called an emergency meeting. An emergency meeting can be called on a two-hour notice.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was aware of the overflow of wastewater, and Heard had said the city probably would be fined for the violation.

The council voted 3-2 to approve the mayor’s action.

The council called a workshop to discuss the procedure for getting items listed on the agenda, placing a price cap on non-budgeted item purchases, working relationships between the mayor and council members and procedures for assigning work to attorneys.

That workshop was held Tuesday night, May 20.

In other business May 13, the council approved $4,600 of a $9,200 request for hotel occupancy money from the Refugio County Jamboree.

Many other groups in the past have requested HOT money, and the balance of the HOT money account was $11,500.

The council also approved $4,000 of a $5,500 request from the 4-H Livestock Judging Team Club from the HOT money account.

And the council approved $2,000 in HOT money for the annual Juneteenth Celebration, this year to be held on June 21 at the Barefield Learning Center.

Betty Jones, speaking on behalf of the Juneteenth Committee, said 200 people are expected this year. A historical plaque will be dedicated at the celebration.

The council also approved hiring a new police officer for an opening on the force. Ernest Santos Ruiz was hired beginning May 22, after he graduates from the Del Mar College Police Academy.

The council also approved a raise in pay for Police Officer Luis Flores Jr., who completed his probation period on the force.

The council also approved the canvass of the May 10 city election. Swearing in is expected at the next regular meeting of the council.

The council also approved Vantage Bank as the city’s depository.
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