Friday, September 21, 2018

ASAC Effectively Neutered


San Angelo's Animal Shelter Advisory Committee had five of its nine meetings cancelled thus far in 2018.  The ASAC met in January, March, May and July.  The last two meetings, August and September were cancelled. 


City Council undertook three strategic decisions without input from the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, the most recent being approving $200,000 for garage expansion/processing room changes. Earlier this year the City contracted with Concho Valley PAWS for veterinary services and leased land to PAWS for an adoption center.


City Council not only missed input from ASAC members it limited the opportunity for public input in bypassing the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee. 


The February meeting had the item pulled from consent for council discussion.  Several members asked questions about compliance with the spay/neuter ordinance.  Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden did not provide the data she shared with Councilman Tommy Hiebert a month prior.

After considerable discussion the Mayor did not ask for public comment.  Council voted to award PAWS the contract for veterinary services.  City Councilman Tommy Thompson asked if it would "get pets out of the shelter better, faster, more efficiously and get the capability to meet the guidelines we want as far as they are vaccinated and altered."  Morgan said it would.  She also stated "this is the solution to removing our pet overpopulation epidemic."

The strategic vision of PAWS adoption center has not been shared with the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee or the public.  The land lease was not pulled for council discussion on May 2, 2018.  It passed within the consent agenda for that meeting.

In the last City Council meeting Mayor Brenda Gunter pushed for the city to spend $200,000 on improvements to the current animal shelter building.  This was embedded in a budget amendment.  There was no discussion as to how the $200,000 fit into the Capital Improvement Plan priorities for the Animal Shelter.  I haven't heard any discussion in Council strategic planning/budget sessions about Animal Services.

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee assists with compliance with state law.  Proposed facility changes fit within this scope of responsibility.


It would be difficult for a busy citizen or Animal Shelter Advisory Committee member to discern this shelter renovation/expansion was even on the agenda.  Getting time off work to attend would've been the next hurdle for the aware.

I'm not sure the city could design a better system to keep planned animal service changes a secret from an interested public with its neutered Animal Services Advisory Committee and propensity to bury strategic animal services decisions within City Council procedures.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Animal Shelter Released 500 Unaltered Dogs over 6 Month Period


Animal Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden informed City Councilman Tommy Hiebert in January that the shelter released approximately 500 unaltered dogs to PAWS or other approved facilities.  The recipients would be responsible for spaying/neutering the unaltered pets.  The City of San Angelo adopted a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance in May 2017.

Morgan's numbers to Councilman Hiebert indicate the city paid for spay/neuter surgery for 188 of the 688 unaltered dogs adopted from April through November 2017.  That's a mere 27.3% of the unaltered dogs processed and adopted by the shelter during that period.  PAWS took responsibility for fixing 14.5% and other facilities 58% of dogs adopted over the six month time frame. 

Morgan cited 8 dogs were not yet spayed or neutered, a higher number than represented to City Council.  For some reason city leaders chose not to share these numbers with the public, despite numerous inquiries and renewing the PAWS contract. 

Monday, September 03, 2018

COSA Budget Cites $7.8 million Water Fund Balance as of July 31


City Council examined the Water Fund in a special budget meeting on August 14.   Finance Director Tina Diershke mentioned the need to grow the water fund balance to a certain number of days revenue but never shared the Water Enterprise Fund Balance, over $7.8 million as of the end of July.

Council could remember Finance Director Dierschke's representation of Water Fund Balance as of 9-30-18 as a mere $3.5 million.  The 2017-18 budget shows a beginning fund balance of $6.1 million.  That's a $2.5 million difference.


Mayor Gunter tried to get a picture of the current water fund balance with direct questions on the number of days and amount.  Dierschke would only give the adjusted budget fund balance of 62 days.  She did not give an actual fund balance figure in days or dollars.

City staff can compare budget to budget but it has accounting documents that show actual figures.    The Water Enterprise Fund is holding enough cash to cover 109 days of water enterprise expenditures.  Council should be astute enough to recognize staff's sleight of hand.

City Council eliminated the twice a year rebate discussion requirement in April of this year.  That may well have been a mistake. 

Saturday, September 01, 2018

MedHab Back on City Council Agenda


For the first time in five years City Council will take up MedHab's economic development agreement with the City of San Angelo.  The item is slated for Executive Session.  In return for a $3.6 million economic development package MedHab promised to provide up to 227 jobs within six years.  Over two years ago MedHab President Johnny Ross reported the company hit a key milestone for ramping us San Angelo employment.

The contract is due to expire on January 1, 2019.  Will the city ask for early cancellation, like the Mesquite Solar Project announced to great fanfare in 2014?

I'll venture the Development Corporation Board is itching to do something with money reserved for MedHab.  Will they give it back to nonperforming MedHab?

Update 9-2-18:  MedHab is pursuing a $3 million equity capital raise and already sold over $900,000 of new equity, according to an 8-20-18 SEC filing. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Vendor Warned City of Click2Gov Problems 2 Months Ago


The City of San Angelo issued a statement on online water payments on August 17, 2018.  A followup press release on 8-20 stated:

Credit card information for water customers who made payments in person and automatically online may have been breached in addition to those who made individual payments online.
Another press release update 8-21 added:
“We know this breach has caused a great deal of inconvenience, and for that we are truly sorry,” Water Utilities Director Allison Strube said. “Since learning of this issue Friday, the City has worked diligently with our vendor to provide an additional layer of protection for our customers. We are continuing the process to learn how many customers might have been impacted and over what timeframe.” The City received a concern Friday that online water bill payments seemed to have led to illicit activity on customers’ credit card accounts.
The company reported security issues in October 2017.  On June 15, 2018 Superion gave an update on problems with its payment software system:

Upon learning of the activity, we proactively notified all Click2Gov customers. Additionally, Superion launched an investigation and engaged a forensic investigator to assess what happened and determine appropriate remediation steps.

Throughout our investigation with the third-party forensic team, we have kept in direct contact with every Click2Gov customer to assist in the resolution of this issue, informing them of our findings via email, phone calls, and one-on-one working sessions. We assisted many customers with analyzing their Click2Gov environment and provided them with best-practice guidance to assist them in securing their servers and networks.
 Neighboring city Midland, Texas reported breaches with its payment system on June 27, 2018.

The city of Midland, Texas, on Monday reported a potential security breach of the utility billing online payment platform, administered by Superion. The city reports learning of the possible breach on Friday. Superion’s Click2Gov function is the payment server used to make online payments for utilities. The security breach, according to the city, affected users who made one-time, online payments between December 2017 and June 2018.  
San Angelo City officials are working to find the extent of the breach.   The time frame for the breach will be interesting to learn in light of this timeline.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Six Year Anniversary of MedHab Deal


Six years ago San Angelo's City Council inked an economic agreement deal with MedHab.  It can be canceled January 1, 2019.  That's three months and ten days away. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

San Angelo Solar Farm Fizzles Out


Four years after approving the initial lease for San Angelo's first solar farm the project is dead.  City Council will pronounce the deal after OE Renewables defaulted on their obligations and ignored the city's inquiries.  Former Mayor Dwain Morrison said this deal would "make the city a lot of money."  That hasn't and won't happen.

Update 8-20-18:  San Angelo Live reported on this development.