Saturday, February 16, 2019

Animal Services Committee to Add City Staff

San Angelo's City Council will entertain nominating Morgan Chegwidden, who took over the city's Animal Shelter upon the resignation of James Flores.  Chegwidden served as staff for the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee.

The ASAC's purpose is to advise and assist the Animal Services Manager.  Yet, no city employee has that title on the Animal Services webpage.

Chegwidden took few items to the ASAC since her elevation to overseeing Animal Services.  Consider the key items Morgan took directly to City Council.

The ASAC did not oversee the city's compliance with its spay/neuter and rabies vaccination ordinance.  The shelter released 500 unaltered dogs over a six month period.

Should City Council approve Morgan's nomination she will join a board with numerous city staff/animal services contractors.  She will provide oversight, advice and assistance to herself.

Staff, employed or contracted, should not serve on city boards that oversee their specific area.   They belong on the staff side of the board table and owe citizen volunteer board members good information so those citizens can fulfill their public responsibilities.

Update 2-24-19:  The video showed City Council did not take up Morgan's nomination for the Animal Services Advisory Board.

Update 3-3-19:  Minutes showed Council acted on the nomination, although it is not clear in what session, closed or open, this occurred as the City's YouTube video omitted this action.

Update 6-25-19:  When asked for documents regarding Chegwidden's appointment to the Animal Services Advisory Committee the City asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office for permission to exclude public information on the basis of attorney-client privilege.  The AG office granted the city's request.

Update 7-4-19:   City Council approved a second $200,000 budget item for Animal Shelter improvements.  This item did not go before the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee during the 4-18-19 ASAC meeting.  Bypassed again!  City staff now make up 50% of ASAC membership and the public did not get to view them in action in the April meeting.  When asked for documents regarding why the meeting was not televized/recorded the City asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office for permission to exclude public information on the basis of attorney-client privilege.  The AG office is yet to make a determination on the city's request. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Answers to Council Questions on Water Collections

City Council asked staff a number of basic questions about a new collection agency for past due water bills on 1-18-19.  Assistant Director Water Utilities Chief Lance Overstreet had slides ready but never made it past the first one.   Citizens did not get to see any of Overstreet's slides, one of which had projected collections of $132,000.

A recap of Council questions Overstreet could not answer is below.  I sought answers from the City and included those:

 1.  What percentage of the uncollected amounts are commercial vs. residential?  "I don't have that particular number."

 2.  How many accounts does this represent?    "I don't have that number exactly....18,000 sticks in my to mind."   
          Actual number 12,700 City RFP,  11,309 with Current Collection Agency

 3.  In the last three years how much money did the first company collect?  "I'd have to go back and look at documents on that.  I have seen that but I don't recall."  
         Actual number $277,515.22

The "first company" collected the following amounts for the city over the last three years.

Overstreet sold Online Collection Services (from Winterville, North Carolina) as doing credit reporting.  That was the same reason given for hiring the previous vendor in January 2016.  So it is odd Overstreet told Council the city has not had the benefit of credit bureau reporting for the last three years.

It remains to be seen how much the city will collect from its new contract with Online Collection Services. It took three years for staff to bring this item back to Council, January 2016 to January 2019.  How many years before Council hears a report on actual collections vs. staff's projection?

Update 4-30-19:  After weeks of silence the City announced new City Engineer Lance Overstreet.   The press release stated Pehl would work for a private sector engineering firm.  It failed to mention the firm does significant work for the City of San Angelo.  Let's hope does a better job of answering City Council questions than he did with the water collection agency change.