Friday, September 20, 2013

City Staff Repeatedly Ignore Council's Pleasure

Massive turnover at the senior ranks of San Angelo City officials is a recent fact.  So is City staff failing on numerous occasions to bring items to council or implement council's wishes in a timely manner.  Here are but a few of what I've seen over the last few years.

1.  Failure to update the city's health insurance budget for significant budget savings.  This happened the last two years and is in play for the coming budget year.  Last year this occurred for months after council specifically approved a budget amendment. 

2.  Failure to bring two items regarding the renovated City Hall to Council for approval.  Roger Banks purchasing manager cited the infamous $104,000 in Water Department Furniture and a series of construction change orders that he deemed as needing Council approval. 

The one person that didn't change was Michael Dane, the City's Chief Financial Officer who served as interim City Manager during the Furniture Fiasco.  

City Council members have been most dissatisfied with the last two budget cycles.  Oddly, Dane was promoted to Assistant City Manager post Furniture Fiasco and the first poorly led budget cycle.  Dane is famous for saying at Council meetings, we're ready to act on council's pleasure.

3.  Councilwoman Charlotte Farmer researched the water joint venture between the city and Midland/Abilene and found another breach of a council stated commitment.  The City is essentially $150,000 over the amount Council approved for the joint water effort.  

City Manager Valenzuela and Mayor Morrison issued a statement blaming the faux pas on the lack of our City Attorney's signature and the failure to set up a dedicated account from which to draw down the approved $100,000.  I see the attorney signature as a red herring and the dedicated account as much the same. A budget with clear limits and annotated notes is a tool that can perform the same function.

This isn't a big item, but it occurred on Valenzuela's watch. 

4.  Failure to bring continued pumping of the South Pool at Twin Buttes back to council after 90 days, per council's stated pleasure.  

Tickler files can help leaders truly wanting to implement council's pleasure.  A clear record exists for city staff as City Council meetings are recorded.  One can look through the agendas and minutes to see which topics occurred when.  Video can be fast forwarded to hear the gist of Council's pleasure.

I'm sure there are multiple reasons for repeated failures in this regard.  That said, a number clearly fall in Micheal Dane's court.  At some point Valenzuela will been here long enough for the buck to stop at his desk.  I'd venture that's not far off.

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