Sunday, May 19, 2024

Council to Consider Plethora of Animal Shelter Requests

San Angelo's City Council will hear a laundry list of Animal Shelter requests on Tuesday.  Possible program changes total $767,493 and fall into three categories, public safety, shelter operations and outreach/crime preventions.  

The city's loose dog problem has been years in the making, partly driven by the shelter's returning unaltered dogs to irresponsible pet owners.  Despite the city having a juggernaut public information office, vendor Concho Valley PAWS has often served as the public face of the city shelter.

Staff presented the temporary facility to the Planning Committee in February.  There were no cost estimates for getting that site ready to house pets on a temporary basis.

PAWS also provides shelter volunteers.  They have shown up at Animal Shelter Advisory Committee meetings with numerous suggestions about shelter operations, including expanding hours so they can assist pets and not walk dogs during the height of the heat of our brutal summer days.

The last time Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden presented to Council there were "no new funds" available.  I imagine this wish list will not go over well.

Change is needed, specifically in the release of unaltered dogs to owner from the shelter.  This has been city practice for the last six years, resulting in the return of thousands of unaltered dogs (per city records).  Add choking off intake via a series of "managed" moves and citizens wanting to do the right thing in surrendering their pet have few options.  Some resort to dumping.  The implicit city policy is "let loose dogs roam unaltered."  

Staff has an intention in presenting all this at once to Council.  It may be to make the point that it is too expensive to do.  It may be to show the ways PAWS is saving the city money.  

It shows staff is unable to identify the highest priority problems and target specific interventions to address them.  Just serve it all up to Council and let them decide.  People making these salaries should be able to do better than that.

Update 5-21-24:  Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden tried to narrow down the scroll like list to items needed to get the temporary shelter facility completed for use during the long promised shelter renovations.  Construction Manager Al Torres told City Council the construction documents would be completed in 30 days and then the original project could be put out to bid.  That's late June 2024.

Morgan said it would take $120,000 to make ready the temporary shelter facility.   She added another $112,000 in staff costs to operate both facilities after encouragement from Assistant City Manager Michael Dane.  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela added the list of possible program changes is a better fit for a general fund budget workshop meeting.  The topic ended with no motion and staff responsible for bringing the item back with a funding source.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Mystery CAFR 2023 Approved by Council

San Angelo's City Council approved the fiscal year 2023 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and Single Audit in today's meeting.  Mayor Brenda Gunter referred to page numbers in the document when she asked questions.  The public in attendance and watching online did not have access to the CAFR to follow along.  That's because the document was not included in the Council meeting background packet for 5-7-24.  This occurred for the second year in a row.  

Several years ago Council made it a strategic priority to increase various fund balances.  Staff do not present a "financial year in review" at City Council prior to the CAFR.  So for interested Council members this is the first time they've seen audited numbers.  Mayor Gunter expressed this to other Council members who had gotten the report last week.

Council members get monthly Blue Book and Revenue and Expense accounting documents on a monthly basis.  The September versions are essentially full year reports, although there may be year end adjustments.  These documents used to be available to the public on the city website.  They were removed in December 2018.

The next opportunity for the public to hear about city fund balances occurs during the strategic planning process.  That information has rarely made the background packet.  Will things change this year?  So far, it's been more of the same minimalist approach to sharing financial information.

Update 5-20-24:  City staff included the CAFR in the council background packet in May 2022.

Update 6-16-24:  The 2023 CAFR is available on the City's website.

Friday, May 03, 2024

Interim Economic Development Director Pay

Economic Development Director Guy Andrews resigned effective 8-31-22.  His position is not yet filled.  Assistant City Manager Michael Dane has served as Interim Economic Development Director since Andrews left.  Last March the city increased Dane's pay $22,731 or 12.5% for those increased responsibilities and made it retroactive to 10-1-22.  

The city's HR Director instituted the temporary pay increase after learning from Finance Director Tina Dierschke how fatigued Mr. Dane was from doing "so much extra work."  Oddly, that fatigue did not come up in the recent Development Corporation meeting when that board discussed the Economic Development Director position.  

One board member asked Tina about the financial impact of not fulfilling the director role.  Dane answered in general terms and spoke of the pay and benefit savings (roughly $200,000) but did not mention his interim pay and benefits ($31,000) as an offset.  He may have been too tired.