Friday, January 12, 2018

City Council Fills Occupied ASAC Seat

San Angelo's City Council approved the appointment of Health Services Director Sandra Villareal to the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee (ASAC) on December 12, 2017.  District 3's Harry Thomas made the appointment of Villareal, a city employee, to serve on a board intended to garner public input and provide public oversight.

Oddly, two days later the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee met with District 3
representative David Howard in attendance.  There was no mention of his resignation, no letter of resignation in the board packet or announcement made during the meeting.

The City's position on serving with its boards and commissions states:

The City of San Angelo offers a number of ways for its citizens to become actively involved in government business. In addition to the opportunity citizens have to express their thoughts at City Council meetings and public hearings, San Angelo citizens also may apply to serve on one of many boards and commissions (some restrictions apply). Unless otherwise stated, all vacancies are by appointment and approved by the City Council. 
The City's website gives the purpose for the ASAC:

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee makes recommendations regarding Animal Services policy to the City Council. 
It lists the following information regarding the Animal Services Advisory Committee:

Consists of seven residents appointed by the City Council: one licensed veterinarian; one member shall own, operate or otherwise be employed by or in a business related to the production, sale, distribution or care of animals or livestock; two members shall represent a nonprofit animal interest group or groups whose membership is comprised primarily of citizens of the city and whose primary interest is the health and welfare of animals; and, the remaining three members shall be residents of the city and need not have any other affiliation, membership or association.

Of the four people appointed by City Council on 12-12-17 only Sandra Villareal had no board application in the background packet.

Ms. Villareal was formerly over the City Animal Shelter.  She led an effort targeting the Mejor Que Nada community cat colony and joked with Public Information Officer Anthony Wilson via e-mail about shooting community cats.

Sandra recently fulfilled a longtime promise to former Shelter Director Robert Diaz by hiring him as an Environmental Health Inspector.  Diaz either oversaw a circle of horrors or the best Animal Shelter in Tom Green County.  The City employed two different narratives on the state of the shelter in June 2017.

City Manager Daniel Valenzuela can involve Sandra however he wishes in advising Bob Salas and Morgan Chegwidden on Animal Services Policy.  That's his management prerogative.

Surely there were members of the public interested in animal welfare that could have been appointed.  The City Animal Shelter has been insular and obstructive on a number of fronts, one of which has been the composition of the ASAC.  Many animal advocates have applied only to hear nothing from city staff.

City Councilman Harry Thomas' appointment of Ms. Villareal is a continuation of the "circle the wagons" approach the city employs at the Animal Shelter.  Thomas said three words when Villareal's nomination came up on December 12th.  "So moved" followed by "Aye." 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Dogs Leaving City Animal Shelter Unaltered

A public information request to the City of San Angelo asked for information about dog adoptions over an eight month period.  It sought information on the shelter's compliance with city ordinances requiring pets to be altered (spayed/neutered) and microchipped.  It also sought data on the shelter's compliance with state law requiring rabies vaccinations.  The City's response stated:

"100% of dogs adopted have had their rabies vaccination.  100% of dogs adopted have been spayed/neutered or are scheduled for their surgery."
The city provided a thirty three page document with statistics on 913 dog adoptions.  The document did not indicate rabies or microchip status but it did show whether the pet was altered.  Only 225 of adopted dogs are shown as altered in the city report, while 688 dogs show a need for spay/neuter surgery.

These are the expectations of the adoption vendor per the December 15, 2017 Request for Proposal for Adoptions Services.

The post adoption phone caller could indicate in city records if the pet has been altered, if that is not already occurring. 

Area veterinarians have expressed concern about the high no show rate for Animal Shelter adoptions.  A 50% or greater no show rate makes it difficult for veterinarians to run their practice.  At times veterinary staff have experienced that level of missed spay/neuter appointments for pets originating from the Animal Shelter.

PAWS is the current adoption services contractor for the Animal Shelter.  It should be able to provide actual data as to how it has met city specified requirements, city ordinances and state law.  That would be important information to know as the City considers whether to continue contracting out adoption services or bringing the function back inside city operations.

Below is the three person committee that will review any RFPs submitted, as well as the oversight body that monitors adoption performance in regard to city specifications:

City Council will entertain the RFP for Adoption Services on January 23rd.  There should not be a rush to extend if questions arise regarding PAWS performance.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

MedHab Seeks Pre-orders for Fall Prevention/Alert Device

MedHab's MyNotifi hit the web on December 15, 2017.  A promotional piece states:

MyNotifi® is a one-of-a-kind medical alert wristband. They can keep living the active lifestyle they love. You can rest easy knowing you’ll be instantly notified if they ever need your help.
2018 is the year for MedHab to use the remaining $2.9 million in economic development funds, courtesy of the City of San Angelo Development Corporation.  Where will MyNotifi fit into the mix?

Thursday, January 04, 2018

City Looks to Re-Up PAWS Contract

Bidders interested in running animal adoptions for the City Animal Shelter will need to get their proposals into City Hall by 2:00 pm on Friday, January 5th.  State law requires all pets to have mandated vaccinations, like rabies.  City ordinance requires all pets be spayed/neutered and micro-chipped.  Any vendor would need to ensure pets adopted from the animal shelter are compliant with these legal mandates. 

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Stripes Changing Under Proven Operator Renter

Stripes Convenience Stores provided an update on its plans for 207 potentially orphan sites, 45 of which are in the San Angelo area.  Their press release stated:

DALLAS , Dec. 5 , 2017  --  Sunoco LP  signed definitive agreements with a commission agent to operate the approximately 207 retail sites located in certain West Texas , Oklahoma and New Mexico markets, which were not included in the previously announced transaction with 7-Eleven, Inc. Conversion of these sites to the commission agent is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2018.
The press release referred to details in an investor presentation.

The slide above states:


● A signed agreement with a proven operator for the 207 West Texas sites as a commission agent
          • The conversion of sites is expected to occur in Q1 2018
          • Commission agent is a proven profitable channel within our fuel distribution portfolio

● Key elements of commission agent model • Commission agent operates retail locations
          • Generates stable rental income through SUN’s continued ownership of real estate
          • Captures a material portion of fuel margin less a commission to the agent
          • Provides optionality for future asset sales
          • Commission agent operations are included in targeted 50% reduction in overhead

● Opportunity to capture upside of West Texas growth via commission agent terms

● Delivers on coverage (~1.1x) and leverage (~4.5 - 4.75x ) goals
         • Significant EBITDA retention, immediate accretion to distributable cash flow/distribution coverage
          • The commission agent model, developed early in the West Texas sales process, is high-value alternative to asset sale
          • Best option based upon the analysis of balancing EBITDA retention and after-tax cash proceeds
          • Combined with the 7-Eleven transaction, allows for debt reduction, redemption of preferred equity and repurchase of common units

In January 2016 Stripes operations were a key value driver for Sunoco LP.   West Texas Stripes, under their new name, will be operated by a renter who must give a good chunk of their gasoline profits to the landlord.  How might that impact service?

Will Alvin New end up as part of the "proven operator" team?  It remains to be seen.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Why San Angelo Citizens Did Not Get Water Rebate

The City of San Angelo's Water Fund continues to surprise.  First, it came in at $6.7 million.  That's $1 million higher than prior numbers released to the public.  The city took nine adjustments worth nearly $3.2 million to get the fund balance down to $3.6 million.  

City Council expressly approved only $1.2 million of these adjustments.  The remaining $2 million were characterized as "any typical year end audit adjustments" by the City's Finance Director.

I'm not sure how a Ford Ranch carryover is a typical year end adjustment as the city bought the ranch in November 2016.  That's after the start of the 2106-2017 fiscal year which ended 9-30-17.

City staff did not supply this information to Council and elected officials did not inquire when provided the opportunity.  Given the public's longstanding concern about water rates one might expect staff and council to be proactively transparent in the use of water funds.

Citizens can see the math.  The water fund increased $6.1 million in the last fiscal year, much of it due to our paying our water bills.  Most of that increase, $5.9 million, came in the last five months May, June, July, August and September.  

Another surprise is the city has additional accounting periods for the fiscal year ended 9-30-17.  This document shows a period 13 and period 14.  These year end close financial statements are not shared with City Council or the public.  How can elected officials or the public be aware of important information if it isn't shared?  They have to ask.

Friday, November 24, 2017

City Council Rejects Water Rebate: Rate Increase Vote Next?

San Angelo's City Council continued the decade long string of not offering water rebates to citizens, despite raising water rates at least five times since 2007.

The City enacted water rate increases in 2007, 2011, 2016 and 2017.  Another water increase is coming January 1, 2018.
2007 - Average increase of $13.22 per month
2011 - Average increase of $14.75 per month
2011-2016 - Additional fees of $5.42 per month added.
2016 - Average increase of $5.88 per month
2017 - Average icrease of $6.56 per month.
2018 -Average increase of $7.32 per month
Two more rate increases are planned for 2019 and 2020.  Combined they total $7.96 per month. 

By 2020 San Angelo's City Council will have increased citizen water bills by $61.11 to $79.08 per month.   That's a 340% rate hike over 14 years, an annual 24% increase.

Why no rebate?  One factor is the city shifts water money around before its time to consider a rebate.  Consider this historical fact from Fitch Ratings, the city's bond rating agency:

In 2011 the City conducted a "one-time transfer of $3.5 million into general fund reserves from the water utility." 
Consider what Finance Director Tina Dierschke told Council on 11-21-17:

"The estimated fund balance is our fund balance from September 30th in the Blue Book and we've also taken out the carryovers Council approved in the last meeting as well as any typical year end audit adjustments so that we have a better picture of where the water fund balance really stands."
The Blue Book showed nearly $5.8 in Water Enterprise fund balance as of 9-30-17.  Not once Councilperson asked how that number declined to roughly $3.6 million.  Those with a good memory would recall a $1.2 million carry forward for utility work for street projects.

That leaves $1 million explained away as a typical audit adjustment.  In addition, there was no discussion on the $4 million administrative line item or the $3.5 million in transfers from the water fund for the fiscal year ended 9-30-17. 

I wrote my City Council representative asking about the evaporation of $2.2 million in water funds.  I've heard nothing back.  That was also council's response when asked "any questions?" on this agenda item.  Silence.  Nothing.