Friday, February 18, 2022

City Shelter Board Fails to Meet Again

The  Animal Shelter Advisory Committee failed to achieve a quorum for yesterday's planned meeting.  This is surprising given heavy representation from City staff and Animal Services contractor Concho Valley PAWS.  Four of the seven committee members are paid by the city as an employee or contractor.

The City's Code of Ordinances does not specify a quorum for the ASAC. 

The next meeting is planned for May.  It could be eleven months between meetings.  

Update 2-25-22:  The City produced a video highlighting its No Kill achievement for the last fiscal year.   It said that local residents had been overburdening the Animal Shelter.  Concho Valley PAWS once again cited spay-neuter as a key component.  The Shelter donated its surgical equipment to PAWS in December 2019.  How many spay-neuter surgeries has CVPAWS done on area pets since they were the beneficiary of city property?   The need is there according to one COSA Facebook poster "Animals running loose, mating and getting struck by cars because of negligent owners is a definite issue."

Update 4-5-22:  Four of the six ASAC committee members are city employees or contractors.  The death of Chair Ryan Smith means one seat is unoccupied.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Dog Poisoning Not on ASAC Agenda

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee meets on February 17th for the first time in eight months.  The dog poisoning that occurred sometime around November 13, 2021 is not on the agenda.  

Committee Chair Ryan Smith died since the last meeting, thus Vice Chair Caitlin Wylie may run the meeting.  Electing a new Chair and Vice Chair are on the February agenda.  Four of the six current members are city employees or contractors through Concho Valley PAWS.  

An online ambassador program will be considered.  Such a person may have been of assistance on Christmas Day when Animal Services was no help to SAPD.  The city recommends microchip scanning of found animals, however the only vet clinic that provided that service ceased offering it.  That leaves Animal Services staff as the only resource that can research microchip information.  Will volunteer online ambassadors or Animal Services staff research microchip information so pets can be quickly reunited with owners?  That would fit with progressive return to owner.

Intake diversion remains strong as Animal Services did not respond to a recent call regarding a homeowner eviction where pets would have no place to live.  The shelter remains full. 

Update 2-17-22:  The meeting did not occur today due to a lack of quorum. 

Update 2-25-22:  After ignoring a call regarding a resident eviction the City Animal Shelter reported it assisted a different resident when they were evicted.  The pets they helped were mostly puppies.  Recall the city has a mandatory spay-neuter ordinance.  The home they refused to help had most fixed or altered pets.

Update 3-16-22:  The City sent out a news piece on the Animal Shelter's actions during the February 2021 winter storm. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Lawyer Seeks Development Funds After Defying Setback Requirements

San Angelo City Council will consider an agenda item recommending TIRZ funding be awarded to local attorney Brian Raymond and his Monday Shorts, LLC for a Chadbourne Street Bed and Breakfast project.  

Last year Raymond built an addition on his home that violated City of San Angelo setback requirements.  The Zoning Board of Adjustments denied Brian Raymond's request for a zero setback for a parking structure, but lowered the twenty foot setback requirement to thirteen feet for a nearly completed garage building.  

That decision occurred June 7, 2021.  It is seven months since the ZBA decision and Raymond is yet to remove the parking structure. 

Raymond received TIRZ funding of $9,950 in 2017.  Any grants above $10,000 required a 25% match.  

The current project is a partnership with his father, former head of San Angelo's Wells Fargo Bank Jim Raymond.   Brian Raymond's Monday Shorts LLC requested $35,750 in TIRZ funding.  The TIRZ board reduced that to $26,813 due to the high volume of projects.  Jim Raymond's Baja Properties LLC asked for $38,150 which was reduced to $28,643.

Will City Council award a local attorney's Monday Shorts LLC $26,813 while he is delinquent in addressing an outstanding ZBA decision?

Update 2-15-22:  City Council approved funding for Brian Raymond's Monday Shorts LLC in the consent agenda.  Raymond's setback violation is in SMD #5.  That seat was unoccupied when Council took the vote.  Council person Karen Hesse Smith was sworn in after the consent agenda.

Update 3-14-22:  The Zoning Board of Adjustments that declined Raymond's setback waiver will meet next on 4-4-22.  

Update 3-15-22:  City Council pulled TIRZ projects from the consent agenda for discussion in their meeting today.  Mayor Gunter said she always pulled those for the public to hear.  That did not happen with Brian Raymond's Monday Shorts. She also said she wanted TIRZ projects to consistently follow the rules.  Councilperson Tommy Hiebert asked if businessmen ever expressed concern about not getting their full funding request.

Update 5-26-22:  Raymond reduced the parking structure in size but did not remove it.  

It's now golf cart vs. full truck sized. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Feds to Fund $8.5 million of College Hills Reconstruction

City Council will consider approving the reconstruction of College Hills Avenue from Avenue N to Loop 306.  The total project will cost $32.6 million with $8.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.  This one project will use up over 51% of the city's ARPA funds.  

The American Rescue Plan includes an array of emergency aid to reduce the extreme hardship many people and businesses are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this aid will be delivered to states, localities, and other governments, which will then use it to help people.

City Council considered this funding in a strategic planning session last June.

The City of San Angelo will use federal funds to bail it out for under-funding local infrastructure.  This council is trying to make up for the long term practice of putting off street, water and sewer line maintenance.  ARPA funds are a gift horse for the city. 

Federal funds supplanted local public health dollars nearly a decade ago.  The city "eliminated" its immunization and sexually transmitted disease clinics in order to apply for Medicare Section 1115 funding.  In reality city management parked clinic staff in another department and kept clinic equipment for a rapid restart after federal money arrived in 2013.  

Ample federal funds remain for the operation of the STD clinic.  The City's Bluebook accounting documents show the following:

1115 Waiver Expansion Grant--FY ended 2013 to 2021--Totaled     

Revenues           $1,433,946

Expenditures        $559,423

Excess                 $874,423

The city closed its federally subsidized public health clinic starting March 16, 2020.  It remained closed for fifteen months, reopening June 7, 2021.  Other health providers found a way to reopen and serve people during the pandemic.  Not the City of San Angelo.  It used clinic staff to contact trace, track and release COVID-19 cases.

The Omicron wave in our community is subsiding.  Will the remaining 49% of ARPA funding be used to patch large infrastructure holes or help people hurting as a result of the pandemic?  Extreme hardship remains in our community.