Wednesday, October 16, 2013

City Leader Confesses to State/Federal Shakedown

City Council discussed Texas Department of State Health Services grant funding for the City's one day a week Immunization Clinic.  Health Department Director Sandra Villareal testified:

Yes, we did mention we were going to have to cut those two services, immunizations and STD's and we had no space to put them in, so the State came in and said here, we'll give you $20,000 if you will provide the one day Immunization Clinic.  So we still have the one day immunization.  I asked for an additional year and they said yes, that was fine.  Now, this coming year we have applied for the 1115 waiver which is not here, but that will also help pay for the lease space.  So if something happens to that $20,000 we should have funding to pay for space from the additional dollars we are expecting this year.

Assistant City Manager Rick Weise stated:

And those that she's speaking of that aren't on here today are more like a three to four year grant process and this is all stemming from Council's challenge last year, as y'all were cutting services and reducing things, the challenge to Sandra was to see how we can creatively keep these services alive and so that's what these are.  When she's talking about $20,000, that was last year's Sandra's due diligence with the state in lobbying for those additional funds that other cities are getting and that what we weren't.

Recall this council and professional staff reduced the personal property tax rate by an amount equaling the cut from City Health Services.  Later that year Council hired two Master Developers, one for Lake Nasworthy and the other for Downtown, and added another employee holiday.  In neither case did they identify a source of funding for the over $635,000 in additional spending.

Section 1115 Waiver funds require applicants offer new services to their community.  It's a stretch to cut a critical public health service with the clear intent to have the state and feds pick up the tab, including a new building.  Mayor Alvin New, City Council and paid staff have been clear on their intent.  It's on tape and well worth watching.

Update 10-23-13:  After cutting STD services Tom Green County's STD incidence soared 300%.   Be sure to thank Mayor Alvin New and Interim City Manager Michael Dane for this and an unnecessarily bad flu season in late 2012.  Public health in our area is a shell of its former self.

Update 11-2-13:  The minutes from October 15 represent Villareal and Weise's positions as:  "Responding to a question from Councilmember Farmer, Health Director Sandra Villarreal clarified and provided a brief history of the grant. She noted staff is aware the positions are grant funded and employment is contingent on grant funding availability. Ms. Villarreal noted staff is seeking other grant funding alternatives."

1 comment:

Jim Turner said...

Gateway Development (Lake Nasworthy) is being paid out of the Lake Nasworthy fund. That fund can only be used on lake relate projects. Not sure that Gateway Development was the best use of the money but it does fit the requirements.