GOLIAD – An apparent lack of communication between Goliad County and city of Goliad leaders led to questions about whether to cancel an insurance policy for the Goliad Memorial Auditorium, which is jointly owned by the county and the city.
Concerns were raised by county staff and elected officials during a Sept. 28 meeting of the Goliad County Commissioners. The frustrations voiced by county representatives resulted in Pct. 4 Commissioner David Bruns, who is a member of the committee helping to oversee auditorium operations, said he will talk to the city finance director to resolve the concerns.
County Auditor Rusty Friedrichs told the commissioners court that city representatives had not responded to multiple emails and invoices sent by the county regarding payment of the city’s share of insurance costs.
“As of today, the county has spent a little over $200,000 on the auditorium,” he said. “If you split that in two the city’s share is $105,000. The city has not paid a dime for insurance. The question I have is what should we do with this year’s insurance. Should we cancel it?”
Bruns said he did not want to do that.
“They (the city) took it over – it’s their responsibility,” Friedrichs said.
“No they didn’t take it over, the committee took it over,” Bruns said. There’s not any ‘they.’”
The committee budgeted for insurance “but we got shorted about $10,000,” Bruns said. adding that the plan was for the city and the county to both contribute $25,000.
“Why would you give them any money when they owe you over $100,000.” Friedrichs asked.
County Judge Mike Bennett gave his take on the issue.
“Here’s the crux of it,” he said. “It’s like would you continue to advance someone money that had never paid you back on any previous deal. That’s the simplest way I know to say it. Insurance comes due in July or August and we’ve already reupped it.
“So we already stepped in again and put some more money into the pot and now (Friedrichs) is asking what do we need to do? Do we continue to pay insurance and not receive any payment on these insurance premiums by the city?
“In your private life you wouldn’t think that was a very good idea, and it really shouldn’t be any different with the county. So there’s going to have to come a point where we reconcile with the city and they have to ante up or they can’t get any cards.”
Bennett said there are 31 acres associated with the auditorium”and it’s all jointly owned by the city and the county. But the county is buying insurance and the city is not participating. This is an attempt to bring awareness that the city is not holding up their end of the stick.”
“Have you talked to them?” Bruns asked.
“We have sent them invoices,” Friedrichs said.
Bruns said he had heard city representatives were “asking for some stuff.”
He added that the committee which included both city and county representatives had a budget meeting and discussed insurance and utility expenses.
“Y’all have to get with the city and work this out,” Bruns said.
Bennett said county representatives have repeatedly sent invoices and emails to the city “and we’re getting crickets back.”
Bruns said it was important to work out the issues.
“I wish we would sit down and talk with them,” he said. “I would talk to Sherry (Kuenstler, the city finance director). She’s their money person ... and she’s a lot easier to deal with.”
Bennett said it is important for the city to respond to county messages.
“I think when you send someone a bill they owe you a response,” he said. “The city needs to respond to the invoices, emails and queries we have sent to them. The question is, do we want to cancel the auditorium insurance?”
Bruns said he didn’t believe that should be done.
“I don’t think so because again we set up a budget and we budgeted in the county — and I would think the city — to go into this auditorium account that we set up,” he said. “I’ll get with them personally and see. ... It just seems like we’re going back and forth on this. They give me one answer and I hear another answer here.”
Bennett suggested tabling any action on the insurance issue and giving Bruns time to work with the city to determine what its plans are.
“It doesn’t make any sense to continue throwing money at the auditorium when they’re not paying their share.”
A message was left with city hall, but no one was available for comment by press time.