Saturday, April 08, 2017

San Angelo's Town & Country to Stripes to ?


San Angelo Live teased readers with the prospect of 7-Eleven taking over the town through a buyout of Stripes convenience stores. 

Town and Country Food Stores sold out to Susser Corporation in 2007.  New owners re-branded convenience stores with the Stripes name.

Susser monetized the company by selling a portion to Wellspring Capital Management and planned to spin off its petroleum supply business in 2012.  Susser sold all its divisions to Sunoco LP/Energy Transfer in 2014.  

A new moniker is on the horizon as Sunoco plans to sell separately San Angelo's Stripes stores, along with 200 odd stores that didn't make the cut for 7-Eleven ownership.  Two days ago the company reported:.

Assets being sold to 7-Eleven include approximately 1,110 convenience stores in 19 geographic regions primarily along the East Coast and in Texas, and the associated trademarks and intellectual property of the Laredo Taco Company and Stripes.  As part of the transaction, SUN will enter into a 15-year take-or-pay fuel supply agreement with a 7-Eleven subsidiary under which SUN will supply approximately 2.2 billion gallons of fuel annually.  This supply agreement will have guaranteed annual payments to SUN, provides that 7-Eleven will continue to use the Sunoco brand at currently branded Sunoco stores and includes committed growth in future periods.

Approximately 200 convenience stores in North and West Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma will be sold in a separate process
San Angelo's Stripes stores will learn of their new owner before the end of the year.  I wonder if former Town and Country CEO Alvin New will pull together an investment group to bid on the 207 stores 7-Eleven did not buy.  New is behind the Jack's convenience stores in San Angelo.  Might Stripes get jack'd?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Water Department Needs $25 Collection Fee


San Angelo City Council talked water finances without referring to the city's most recent comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR).  The issue concerned the $25 late fee charged by the Water Department for late bills.  City Councilwoman and Mayoral Candidate Charlotte Farmer said the late fee was intended to help with conservation.  Council incentivized citizens to conserve years ago with a 45% rate hike.  It worked amazingly well.   


The city doubled down on rate increases with its five year plan to hike rates another 55%.  Money is flowing in.  The 2016 CAFR shows the city had $27.4 million in water and sewer fund investments (on page 31).  It also showed both the water and sewer funds had a great year.

Yes, the city is building reserves to fund future capital projects but it behooves council to recall that significant dollars are being generated that end up in a bucket different from the targeted 75 day cash position.  Could the city have hit the 75 day target if it did not put such a large amount, $9,744,418 into investments (page 33)?

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Council to Deliberate Lease for 1146 City Farm Road


San Angelo's City Council will take up a lease the city has for 1146 City Farm Road in Executive Session on Tuesday.  The Tom Green County Appraisal District shows this address to have 651 acres with no buildings or improvements.  A search of the city's website produced no results for this address.


Not far from this address is a lease the city negotiated with OE Renewables for a 143 acre solar energy production farm.


The city approved the OE Renewables lease in August 2014 and expanded the amount of property in May 2015.  That project is at least six months overdue and there's been no word from the City or City Council on its status.


The property leased to OE Renewables overlaps with a 2012 proposed lease between the city and Lucas Off Road Racing.  That $1 annual lease was for 100 acres in the City's Industrial Park.  That project never came to fruition.

It's not clear when or if citizens will learn the issues regarding 1146 City Farm Road.  Last month City Council took no action in Executive Session on the Spillman contract.  Later that day the city announced it was suing Spillman for $3.875 million.   One would think projected attorney's fees would total more than $50,000 and need City Council's approval to go forward with the Spillman lawsuit. 

I doubt 1146 City Farm Road has anything to do with Lucas Off Road Racing or OE Renewables Solar Farm.  It's too far away from property shown in prior proposals to City Council.  There's more to learn about the city's plans in this area. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

City Wants Failed Vendor to Fund New System


The Standard Times reported:

The City of San Angelo filed a lawsuit against Utah-based Spillman Technologies, Inc. — a provider of public safety software that bills itself as "the home of reliable innovation" — seeking to recover more than $3.5 million late Wednesday, March 22.
This strategy should be familiar to West Texas football fans who believe the best defense is a good offense.  The City of San Angelo has not shared with the public an investigation as to how their 2014 vendor selection process failed.  Instead the lawsuit puts 100% of the blame on Spillman:

"Spillman fraudulently misrepresented the functionality of its records management and computer-aided dispatch software and its qualifications to implement the system."

Citizens and City Council heard Tuesday how employees knew during the installation process that Spillman software would not work.  The system required too many clicks to dispatch an officer or complete workflow tasks.  Could these not have been seen during a site visit in the selection process?

City documents described the 2014 process:

The replacement of the current system consisted of a comprehensive evaluation of the needs and functionality assessment, development of a Request for Proposals, extensive evaluation and selection process and final vendor selection.
The city borrowed $1.5 million for the system.  To date the city has not shared the actual amount spent to implement and support the system since Spillman was selected.  The city's CAFR pegged the amount spent at roughly $1.1 million as of the end of the last fiscal year (8-31-16).

Citizens also heard of decades of under investment by City Council by postponing needed software updates.  By asking Spillman for $3.875 million the city's lawsuit externalizes all responsibility for Council's long term under investment in this system.

Contrast this decision with City Council's free pass to Republic Services on over $6 million in unauthorized billings to commercial customers over a decade.  At no time did the city engage attorneys in a lawsuit on behalf of the city or its citizens.

The newspaper article listed several significant performance failures with the system.  If there is liability for the incidents listed in the lawsuit, both the City of San Angelo and Spillman bear responsibility. The mix might be 98% Spillman, 2% City, but the city is not Scott Free as it chose Spillman.  To say that amounts to $2.3 million due the city feels like a stretch.

City Council determined Tuesday that action needed to be taken.  Public testimony encouraged self reflection and acceptance of responsibility.  That's good advice as this is not the first vendor being sued by the city.   Spillman now joins the 2013 Sealcoat vendor, Templeton Construction and Alsay, Inc..  Repayment of funds should be a remedy in a fair contract with performance requirements and penalties for failure.

Sometimes the cheap way is the more expensive route.  That's the route City Council, City Manager Daniel Valenzuela and Police Chief Tim Vasquez took in late 2014.  In trying to save $800,000 staff apparently wasted $1.5 million.  Council approved spending $2.3 million it could have spent two years ago for a quality product.
 
The $3.875 million lawsuit feels like a responsibility dodge alongside a legal dice roll to pay for what should have been funded long ago. The city is entitled to sue a vendor for contract nonperformance.  That would mean a refund of the $1.5 million invested to date.

As "damages" equal the exact amount leadership postponed funding for years this lawsuit reflects the city's entitlement.  They don't want a refund for the discounted model they purchased.  The city wants a refund plus money to buy the Cadillac.

Update 3-23-17:   Concho Valley Homepage published a story with information from the city's press release.  San Angelo Live's piece mined details of the city's lawsuit.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Public Safety Communications: System Redo is Expensive


City Council will consider spending $2.5 million to replace a public safety system they approved replacing at $1.5 million in December 2014.


The last two Capital Improvement Plans described the project:

The San Anglo Police Department’s public safety software suite, including computer aided dispatching (CAD), records managements system (RMS) and mobile computing has reached its end of life. The current software suite will no longer be supported for maintenance, upgrades and fixes and as such is no longer compliant with criminal justice information systems (CJIS) rules and regulation.

The replacement of the current system consisted of a comprehensive evaluation of the needs and functionality assessment, development of a Request for Proposals, extensive evaluation and selection process and final vendor selection. Project should consist of: Computer Aided Dispatching Software (CAD), Records Management System (RMS), Mobile Computing Software, and various Hardware Upgrades.

The expected completion date for the CAD/RMS system is April 29, 2016. Some systems and hardware will shortly follow the final implementation of the Spillman software. Final completion of this project should occur by September 2016. Annual maintenance is already being paid under the current system. There are no significant changes in the costs associated with this upgrade. annual maintenance and support have traditionally been included in the regular operating budget of the PSC center.

Funding Source:  2015 Certificate of Obligation of  $1,500,000
Oddly, at the time Council approved the Spillman Technonogies project they considered a document that compared Spillman vs. the cost to upgrade with Intergraph Public Safety.



The city chose Spillman and stuck to their guns, defending the choice in last spring's Strategic Planning Session, despite running into problems that required more budget dollars.  Last year Police Chief Tim Vasquez stressed to Council:

"If you give Jeff a chance he'll finish this and show you the solution and cost that's affiliated with that.  Again, our $1.5 million is way under budget....  We are working very well with this company....  If you let Jeff finish...."
Spillman is finished.  The city's staunch defense is over.  In Tuesday's council meeting staff will return to the Intergraph upgrade option.


Combined the city will have borrowed $4 million for one project, the $1.5 million that did not work and the planned $2.5 million replacement of the replacement.  This issue arose as a crisis in a Strategic Planning Session at Old Fort Concho.  It's now a financial disaster for a city squeezing every penny to maintain public services and meet its contractual obligations to police officers.

Update 3-20-17:  Nearly two days after this report the Standard Times ran a story on this debacle.   City Manager Daniel Valenzuela tried to dance away from this but the buck stops at his desk.

Update 3-22-17:  San Angelo Live reported on this debacle as well.  One might expect the too many steps for workflow or dispatching an officer could have been determined during a site visit in the selection process.  The City issued its press release absolving the City Manager and purchasing department of any responsibility.  SAPD got sold a bill of goods.  One has to wonder why the city's vendors fail and the city ends up suing them.  The list includes:  2013 Sealcoating Program Contract,  Templeton Construction, Inc.,  Alsay, Inc. and now the Spillman Contract. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Second Dangerous Dog Trapped


Citizens trapped a second dog that had been terrorizing small animals along Old Christoval Road and an area around Glenmore Park.

It took some convincing, but the San Angelo Police officer finally dispatched animal control. Animal Control Officer Crystal showed up and did an amazing job handling this dog who was thrashing, biting, and very upset. 

When people fail dogs others have to manage the mess.  Thank heaven for citizens willing to step up and solve the problem.  The recent support of Animal Control is also much appreciated.  The problem is not completely solved but good people are working it.  Godspeed.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dogs Continue Small Pet Hunting Behavior


Pets around Glenmore Park and Old Christoval Road remain at risk for injury or death from dog packs that continue to roam the area.  Neighbors banded together two weeks ago when numerous pets were killed.  An area veterinarian is helping the group determine the cause of death for some of the animals.


Other citizens have monitored the area with the intent of trapping the dogs who continue to cruise the neighborhood.


They've determined there are at least five dogs working in one or more packs.   Dogs in the night camera pictures are inside a fenced area.


These dogs are not interested in food left out to satisfy hunger.  They walk past bowls of dog food intent on going to areas where they've killed before.  This behavior will continue until these dogs are trapped.

I personally saw these dogs running through Glenmore Park, an area that needs to be safe for small children.  The sooner they are caught the better.

Update 3-14-17 at 8:00 am:  A citizen trapped one dog early this morning and called the non-emergency police to access Animal Control.  The officer would not come get the dog at 4:00 am and instructed the caller to bring in the dangerous animal at 10:00 am. As the citizen only had access to one dog sized trap this response, more like a non-response, prevented the potential trapping of more rogue pet killing dogs. 

Update 3-14-17 at 10:15 pm:  Animal Control picked up the trapped dog this morning at a private residence on Old Christoval Road.  Citizens said the Animal Control Officer was very professional in their approach and handling of the situation.   The ACO reiterated the procedure is to call the Police Department non-emergency number after hours and an ACO will come out and pick up the trapped animal.  While that didn't happen last night citizens have been assured that is the proper procedure.  Thank you to San Angelo City Councilman Lane Carter for his interest and support on this concerning situation and to ACO Floyd Bias for his timely and compassionate response.