Margie Rose Has Conversation with Citizens at Flour Bluff Community Center

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page

Corpus Christi City Manager Margie Rose: “Conferences with the City Manager” at Ethel Eyerly Community Center in Flour Bluff

     “I’m here to have a conversation with you.  I do not have a speech.  I am actually here to listen to you,” said Corpus Christi City Manager Margie Rose to a group of about 30 citizens on February 9, 2017, at Ethel Eyerly Community Center in Flour Bluff.  “I want to hear whatever has been on your mind, something you think I need to be aware of or that needs to be checked out, something you don’t like or something you do like.  This is your opportunity.  I didn’t want you to have to come to City Hall; I wanted to come to you,” Rose said.

     In a meeting that lasted almost an hour and a half, the people thanked Mrs. Rose for taking the time to listen to their concerns.  Many in attendance commended her and city staff for the recent improvements at Parker Park, the Vessel Turn-In Program, and especially the community conversations.  They addressed many issues of concern in their neighborhoods.  Some issues discussed were:

  • standing water in front of houses;
  • poor quality road patching
  • wastewater overflows in heavy rains;
  • issues surrounding flushing of water lines, such as standing water creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes, waste of good water, and finding ways to re-use the water instead of flushing it to the Oso, change of water treatment procedures, and use of free chlorine versus chloramines;
  • animal control officers asking citizens to trap strays and poor handling of animals that are picked up;
  • lack of training by those who clean the storm water ditches and break water and/or gas lines;
  • implementation of Litter Critter program in Flour Bluff;
  • no follow-up on Mustang Riding Stables picking up after the horses on the beach;
  • zoning problems for manufactured housing;
  • poor lighting on Flour Bluff Drive creating hazardous conditions;
  • consideration of red light on Flour Bluff Drive to allow cross traffic to move;
  • homeless and transient issues throughout Flour Bluff but especially in and around Parker Park and Ethel Eyerly Community Center and crimes being committed by this population.

     Mark Van Vleck addressed the water issues.  Flushing will continue for several months in order to fend off problems experienced due to over 1900 dead end mains.  One citizen asked that the city treat the ditch water to kill the mosquito larvae.  Another citizen, a chemist, requested information about what has changed in the way the city does its water treatment since – prior to the last three and a half months – flushing rarely occurred.  Assistant City Manager Mark Van Vleck explained that nothing has changed at the plant.

     “What has changed is the level of chloramines we want to keep.  We used to think a 1 was good.  The system is designed to handle about 200 million gallons of water per day.  Normally, around this time of year, we’re around 80 to 85 million gallons a day.  This year we’re down around 40, and during the really cold spell we were all the way down to 25.  What we’re trying to do is pull it up so that we stay above a 2.  By the time (the water) gets here from Calallen, you’ve already got about 14 days of age on it.  That’s why this area has a lot of flushing.  It’s on the southern end of the system, so it behaves as a dead end.  The water goes in, and doesn’t ever come back out.  There’s a lot of flushing on the island right now, too, for the same reasons.”  Van Vleck added that the EPA decided that free chlorine is bad for us, which is why the city has been using chloramines.

    Many in the group voiced concerns about being penalized for using water to irrigate lawns when the city is pumping it down the storm water drains, especially in a time of water restrictions.  Mr. Van Vleck explained that the city is no longer under the restriction, other than the time of day that watering may occur, after 6:00 p.m. and before 10:00 a.m. one day per week.  One citizens suggested that looping of the water take place if flushing is to be a long-term practice.  Mr. Van Vleck said the city did in the past near Quetzal in Turtle Cove.  He added that citizens can request to be part of the water reuse program to have water dumped on their lawns, with the acknowledgment that doing so could possibly damage property since it is applied with great force.

    The meeting ended with Ruby Martinez, director of the programs for seniors at Ethel Eyerly, describing the homeless and transient activity she witnesses every day.  “The city is spending thousands of tax dollars – bond dollars – on this park, and it is going to be beautiful.  Now, you have to do something to keep it safe and make it usable by families and people who want to exercise here, play here, bring their families here for picnics and gatherings.”  Most in the room were nodding in agreement.  Martinez suggested security officers and faster response times by CCPD when calls are made to report indecent or illegal behavior.

     Margie Rose thanked the group and assured everyone that she would get staff busy working on answers to the questions.  At the end of the meeting, she encouraged the citizens to fill out contact information forms and submit additional questions that did not get answered.

 

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

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City Park Director Addresses Flour Bluff Citizens Council

Business, Community Organizations, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Outdoors
Corpus Christi Director of Parks and Recreation Stacie Talbert Anaya addressing Flour Bluff Citizens Council at January 23, 2017, general meeting
     A crowd of about 60 people gathered at 6:00 p.m. on January 23, 2017, at Grace Community Church in Flour Bluff to listen to Stacie Talbert Anaya, Director of Parks and Recreation, describe what her department does city-wide and what is planned for parks in Flour Bluff. Dr. Lloyd Stegemann, FBCC Chairman of the FB Parks and Recreation Committee and newly-appointed member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee for Corpus Christi introduced Ms. Anaya to the audience, pointing out that she lives and works by the motto “The world needs play.”
FBCC members listen while Stacie Talber Anaya, Director of Parks and Recreation, explains what is in store for Flour Bluff parks.
     Ms. Anaya told the citizens council that Parker Park is being upgraded as part of a 2012 voter-approved bond.  New walking paths, lighting for the tennis and basketball courts, improvements to the covered picnic area, and new playground facilities are just part of the plan.  A plan for planting more trees is also in the works.  Parker Pool, which is no longer managed by the city, is not part of the renovation project.  The community was encouraged to assist the Parker Pool Patriots in keeping the pool functional.  (To donate to the cause, visit their website.)
Recent construction at Parker Park
     Plans for an extension of the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve and Learning Center, a 162-acre nature preserve accessible by using the walk-in entrances along N. Oso Parkway and from the Holly hike and bike trail, sits just across the Oso from Flour Bluff.  Anaya said that she and her group are working on making the park accessible to the Flour Bluff community via a hike and bike trail across the existing railway bridge. She said that the plan includes the walkway, fishing spots along the bridge, and perhaps even a trail head parking area at the corner of Flour Bluff Drive and Division Road, a property purchased two years ago by the city to build a citizens collections center, a facility opposed by those who live and own businesses closest to the area.  Anaya’s  idea for the property received many nods from the crowd who also want to see the property used for a more family-friendly space.
Map showing connection of Oso Wetlands park to Flour Bluff side of Oso via old railway tracks
     Anaya also discussed how the Community Enrichment Fund dollars (funds received from developer fees, other donations and interest earned in the Community Enrichment Fund) are used.  The Unified Development Code (UDC), requires that the fees be used for the acquisition or improvement of parks most likely to serve the residents of the subdivision. Community Enrichment Funds shall be used only for parkland acquisition, park development and park improvements including utility extensions required to serve recreational areas. The last appropriation of Community Enrichment Funds was approved by City Council on July 19, 2016.  The next appropriation will be made following approval at the January 24, 2017, council meeting.
    Adding to the discussion of parks and recreational areas in Flour Bluff was community activist and former president of the Flour Bluff Business Association, Melanie Hambrick, who outlined the plans for Redhead Pond (an area purchased to protect freshwater wetland habitat for wintering waterfowl and other birds). Redhead Pond offers a unique opportunity to view large concentrations of wild birds on Laguna Shores Road in Flour Bluff. Ms. Hambrick has long wanted to work with Texas Parks and Wildlife to make this a place for families and visitors to enjoy.  (To volunteer for the Redhead Pond Project, contact Melanie Hambrick at 361-728-7393 or mlhambrick@aol.com.)
Melanie Hambrick
Map of Redhead Pond Wildlife Management Area, Corpus Christi, TX 78418
 
     Joining the FBCC members at the January 23, 2017, general meeting were City Manager Margie Rose, At-large Council Members Paulette Guajardo and Michael Hunter, District 4 Councilman Greg Smith, and Gaye White of Todd Hunter’s office.  Pastor Jess Cole of Grace Community Church offers the church for the FBCC meetings, of which the group is very appreciative.
Better in the Bluff
     As an added bonus, Better in the Bluff t-shirts were raffled to the members in attendance.  Anyone who wishes to purchase a shirt at a cost of $16 ($4 goes to the FBCC for each sale) may visit Caption Tees by following this link.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

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Part of a Vision for the City Is Realized

Corpus Christi, Front Page, Government and Politics
ralston-avenue
Ralston Avenue, Corpus Christi, Texas

     Tuesday’s Council meeting started with long, heartfelt “goodbyes” and “thank yous” as the current mayor and council members held their last meeting together.  The items on the agenda included the possible impeachment of Councilman Mark Scott, the rezoning of .86 acres across from Tuloso-Midway High School for the building of a controversial faith-based transition home for women, a resolution  opposing proposed Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) rule amendments that give TCEQ broader discretion to order boil water notices, Ethics Commission recommendations that further define “conflict of interest”, and a few other less significant topics. However, one agenda item stood out as an example of what Councilman Chad Magill accomplished as part of his vision for the City.  He along with other council members, community members, and City staff made possible something that has been long in coming, the appropriation of funds to start rebuilding residential streets, albeit only two at this time.

ralston-map

    One of the streets is Ralston Avenue, located between Alameda and Staples, and the other is Rogerson Drive, which runs between McArdle and Sunnybrook. The two projects are expected to cost about $4 million combined.   The reconstruction of these two streets will serve as a testing ground for collecting data for moving forward with the reconstruction of other residential streets in years to come, including the initial program implementation planned in the Bond 2016 approved by voters last week.  This test project also provides additional analysis and considerations for the selection matrix for future candidate streets.

ralston-bid-sheet

     According to the report prepared by Valerie H. Gray,  Executive Director of Public Works, “Staff will use these two projects to further refine the Residential Street Reconstruction Program including developing better pricing, street selection process, and construction recapitalization strategies.”  This is a far different way of handling road reconstruction than what has happened in the past.  It seems that the data collected and compiled by the Ad Hoc Residential Street Reconstruction Commission, which was championed by Councilman Chad Magill, had some influence on the process as the language of the agenda memorandum suggests.

Chad Magill portrait

     Magill expressed how pleased he was with the projects and thanked City Manager Margie Rose and her staff for taking the lead on the project.  “Even though this is not the big ticket item, this should be the big news of the day.  This is achieving the impossible, and when we achieve the impossible in this city, it often doesn’t get shared.” Magill and fellow Councilman Brian Rosas talked of how they were committed to making this happen even when they were running against each other for the District 2 seat.

     “District 3 is open for new streets as well as for business,” said Magill to District 3 Councilwoman Lucy Rubio, a play on a line used frequently at Council meetings by Rubio concerning her district.

      Rubio thanked Magill for being a major supporter of District 3.  “You did your job as an at-large member, and you did it very well.”

     Rosas thanked the Council for allowing part of the project to be in his district as well as in Rubio’s district.  He also asked Margie Rose not to forget him when the projects are finished.  “I definitely want to be there for the ribbon-cutting.”

      Ralston Avenue (Staples to Alameda) and Rogerson Drive (McArdle to Sunnybrook) are anticipated to receive:

  • full depth reconstruction with limited utility upgrades/adjustments,
  • complete removal and replacement of existing HMAC Pavement
  • new curb & gutter, sidewalks, ADA ramps and signage/markings

project-schedule

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

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Corpus Christi City Manager, Margie Rose, Addresses FBBA

Business, Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page

margie-rose-and-melanie

     Corpus Christi City Manager Margie Rose spoke to the general membership of the Flour Bluff Business Association at its November 2016 regular monthly meeting.  Ms. Rose was appointed City Manager on July 12, 2016. She served as Interim City Manager, beginning on June 23, 2016 and has been Deputy City Manager since June 2014. Prior to that, she was Assistant City Manager for 12 years. She has over 29 years of local government management experience.  Ms. Rose focused on issues that would directly affect the Flour Bluff citizens.

  • A new traffic light at Purdue and Flour Bluff will be installed in 2017 as part of the 2014 Bond traffic signal project.
  • 18 Flour Bluff streets will receive seal coats or overlays beginning in the spring of 2017.
  • Laguna Madre Wastewater Treatment Plant capital improvements are occurring now.  As part of the City’s long range plan, the plant may be eliminated as part of the Wastewater Consolidation Plan.
  • The City partnered with NASCC will be working in 2017 to improve the truck staging area at the main gate to improve traffic flow and safety.
  • Parts of the 2012 and 2014 bonds include projects in Flour Bluff.  (Parker Park is part of the 2012 Bond.)
  • Passage of Proposition 1 in the recent election will allow the City to replace the portion of Type A sales tax that expires in 2018 with the adoption of a one-eighth (1/8th) of one percent sales and use tax (about $7.5 million).  Of these funds, 50% goes to economic development, up to $500,000 annually to affordable housing projects, and the balance to be used for construction, maintenance, and repair of arterial and collector streets and roads.
  • Passage of Proposition 12 will allow the City to spend about $11 million of the $18 million to start work on residential streets.  Two streets (Rogerson and Ralston) are being used as a testing ground for reconstruction of residential streets.  These streets, not located in Flour Bluff, will become the reference points for future residential street reconstruction.
  • The Council has established priorities:  residential streets, water supply, and economic development.  In January they will come together to re-evaluate the priorities.  TCEQ water updates are being provided to Council on a regular basis.  Ms. Rose explained that even the filing of late paperwork can result in a water boil notice by TCEQ.  The City will provide their comments concerning these kinds of regulations.  This topic will be addressed at the November 15, 2016, Council meeting.

Ms. Rose asked those in attendance if they had any questions.  The following questions were addressed:

  • Where are we getting the consultants who will be working on the test streets, and what will we gain?  Answer:  The engineers are local and will be able to offer the kind of knowledge necessary to ensure proper construction of the test streets.
  • What is the status of the ESD#2 emergency services ambulance, which has been ready to operate since August 31, 2016, but has been delayed due to negotiations with certain City staff?   Answer:  Because this topic will be discussed in executive session at the November 15, 2016, Council meeting, Ms. Rose was not at liberty to offer specifics.
  • What is the status of the promised Litter Critter Program in Flour Bluff?  Answer:  Ms. Rose said that she would find out the answer to this question and relay the information to the organization.
  • Is Ms. Rose aware of the formation of the Flour Bluff Citizens Council?  Answer:  She is aware of the group and is looking forward to working with them on Flour Bluff issues.
  • What is the status of the Laguna Madre Wastewater Plant, and how will it affect future growth of Flour Bluff? (This question arose out of a concern about Flour Bluff Drive being reconstructed without a wastewater line and consolidation of wastewater plants to save money at the possible expense of growth in the Flour Bluff area.)  Answer:  Ms. Rose said the goal is to eliminate the Laguna Madre plant in the distant future.  Currently, the City has hired a consulting firm to create a plan that will serve the City in the best way possible.  She encouraged those who have a concern about this issue to let their voices be heard. (The video of the Council report can be viewed here.)
  • What is happening with the online application process at Development Services? (The question arose out of concern about the system being down and a lengthy experiences of lengthy wait times for permitting.)   Answer:  Ms. Rose was told by the Development Services that the online system was working well.  However, with the concern raised at the FBBA meeting, she will be looking into the issue to see what is happening with the implementation of the online service.
  • What is the status of the Navy’s study on the effects of wind generators?  Answer:  There has been no official report at this time.
  • Is there a possibility that Council member terms will be changed to 3- or 4-year terms?  (This question was based on concerns about the frequency and cost of training of Council members.)  Answer:  The Charter Committee recently discussed the issue, but no change was suggested to Council.

Ms. Rose stayed after the meeting to respond to questions from individuals.  She encouraged everyone to stay apprised of Council action on topics discussed by attending meetings or checking the City website for additional information.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

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Margie Rose: The Story of a Southern Lady Who Became a City Manager

Corpus Christi, Front Page, Personal History

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     Margie Rose started her life in the tiny town of Screven, Georgia.  This small railroad community in Wayne County is known for hunting, fishing, and annual festivities.  The true Southern hospitality of the town with less than 700 people buried itself deep in Margie’s soul and served her well on her journey to becoming the city manager of Corpus Christi, Texas.

     “I am what you call a true Southerner, and I am really proud of that,” Margie said.  “In Georgia, everybody’s a friend.  You say ‘hello’ to everyone.  It’s just part of Georgia.”

     When Margie was eleven, her parents moved her and her two brothers to Michigan.  There she greeted everyone she met in her usual, Southern way, but she quickly noticed that the people in this state bordering the Great Lakes were not like the people of her childhood home. She asked her mother why no one would return her greeting.  Her mother made excuses for the people in Michigan, saying that it was a different environment from Screven, but that answer only made Margie more aware of the importance of her Southern upbringing.

     “I still thought that smiling and saying ‘hello’ was not costly at all,” said Margie, so she carried on spreading her Southern hospitality to those she encountered.

     The school she attended, which had a population nearly equal to her hometown, had a program that would change the course of Margie’s life.  This program allowed seniors who had earned all of their credits by December of the graduating year to opt out of taking classes the second semester.  The counselor surprised this National Honor Society student with the news that she had met the requirements for the program.  Margie was taken aback when asked if she might be interested in taking a job with the City of Inkster, Michigan, in the six months before high school graduation.

     “I had no idea what to say!  I had never worked because my mother wanted me to focus on school.  There I was at seventeen trying to make a big decision, so I told her I would have to talk to my parents to see what they thought I should do,” she said.  The counselor told Margie to go home, talk to her parents, and return to her office the next day so that she could set up an interview with someone from the city.  Margie admitted that she got excited about the possibility of embarking on a new adventure in her life and had no idea what to expect when she landed the job.

    “I was basically a cashier who was dealing mainly with senior citizens,” said Margie.  “They would come in to pay their taxes, and some of them were angry about the amount they had to pay.”  Their complaints drove her to learn all she could about how taxes are created in order to better serve the people who came to her looking for answers.  Margie frequented the assessor’s office during this time.

     “I just felt so good communicating with the people.  It was the first time I realized how my Southern hospitality came out when I was serving them.  And even though they were angry, I still accepted and listened to them. That time between January and June really changed me,” said Margie.

     Working in city government was not a path that Margie’s parents wanted her to take.  They had discussed many times the plans they had for her to graduate high school and then go to the University of Michigan or Eastern Michigan to take foundational courses that would prepare her to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.  Though Margie knew she was quite capable of pursuing such a career, she did not believe that she would be happy working as an engineer.  Plus, she had fallen in love with the work she was doing at the city.  She found herself at a crossroads.

IMG_6111

     One day, another city employee dropped by the cashier’s office to get change.  He asked Margie’s name, and she asked his.  She then asked what he did for the city.

     “I’m the city manager,” he said.

     “Well, what does a city manager do?” she asked.

     “I run the city,” he answered.

     This made no sense to Margie because she thought that the mayor ran the city, just as she had learned in her civics classes.  He set about telling her how the city really ran, explaining the council-city manager form of government, and taking more time than she really expected.  The conversation captured her attention, so much so that she began visiting the library on break and during lunch so that she could read and learn about municipal government.  The more she studied, the more she learned.  The more she learned, the more she wanted to learn.  In that six-month period, she fell in love with the idea of working in city government.  She was fascinated and watched her life change direction before her very eyes.

     Because she had such an interest, the city manager visited with her many more times about the job he held.  Then one day he asked her, “Have you ever considered doing this?”

     “Not until now,” she answered.

     “You really have the right personality for it,” he said, “and, you know, not many women are in this and that might be why you should pursue this line of work.”

     To Margie, it was not so much about how many women were in the profession.  It was about the positive impact she believed a city manager could have on a community.  A seed had been planted in Margie in that time from January to June, and she became certain of the path she wanted to take.  All she had to do was convince her parents it was the right thing for her to do.  It would be difficult.  After all, they had already laid out a path for her, and it did not lead to city hall!

     The look of disbelief on her mother’s face when she told her was not one Margie would ever forget.  She did not want to anger her parents, especially her mother, who was like most moms when it came to her children.  She wanted what was best for her daughter, and it would take a great deal of negotiating for Margie to convince her mother that she wanted to pursue a career in city government and not engineering.  Margie needed to feel passionate about what she did, and she knew that engineering was not her passion.  “That’s when I had to lean on my faith in God.  I have always been grateful to my parents for instilling that in me.”

     When graduation rolled around, Margie decided that she had to stand up for what would make her happy throughout her career.  It was no longer a matter of just getting her parents’ permission; it was a decision that would affect her for an entire lifetime.  It was a game-changer for the way she would receive her education, too.  She wanted to continue to work at the city while she attended school.  This meant she wouldn’t be going away to college.  To show her parents that she was willing to make sacrifices to pursue this new career choice, she told them that she would pay her own way through school if they would allow her to continue living with them.

     “I thought that my mother was going to be angry, and early on I think she was.  I think she was so surprised that at the young age of seventeen I had methodically thought through it all and was ready to face whatever was going to come.  But, I had made up my mind that no matter how many years it took to get my degree, I was going to do it.  The only thing I remember my mother saying was ‘I can’t believe my child just grew up.’  “

     That opened the door for Margie.  She went to school and learned about all the city departments from the directors, people who saw something special in this young, driven woman.  She remembers them saying, “Margie, one day we’re going to be working for you, so we may as well go on and help you now.”  They believed in her and guided her, and by the time she received her undergraduate degree in business accounting, she already had offers that led to jobs that in turn led to advancements within the community of Inkster.  Before the age of thirty, Margie became an assistant city manager and was living her dream – almost.

     From there, Margie ran into a few roadblocks as she worked her way up to her first job as a city manager.  She was passed over for jobs that she could do with ease because she had prepared herself so well and watched them go to less competent people who often relied on her to get their jobs done. That might kill the spirit of some people, but not Margie.  “If I found myself throwing my own pity party, I’d stop it and get back to work.  Feeling sorry for myself would never help me achieve what I set out to achieve.”

     Margie credits her mom, a nurse by trade who had given it up to make more money by working in the automobile manufacturing business, for establishing the foundation she needed to be successful.  When her mother attended a reception given in Margie’s honor when she landed her first city manager’s job, she leaned over and whispered in Margie’s ear, “I don’t know how you knew as a seventeen-year-old girl your path, but it was a good path.”

     Today Margie Carol Rose serves the citizens of Corpus Christi, Texas, as their first female and first African-American city manager.  Her mother has passed away, and her husband of 29 years is her anchor now – and her greatest supporter.  They had a long-distance marriage when she was in Michigan, and he was in Texas. It was he who discovered the openings in Ft. Worth, Irving, and Corpus Christi and encouraged her to apply for all three. All three granted her interviews, and the couple decided that she would take whichever one called her first.  It was Corpus Christi.  “I think back now, and I realize that this was all part of a plan, a plan that led me here.”

Margie C. Rose

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

Please follow and like us:

Corpus Christi Council Approves Mid-Year Adjustment to Budget

Corpus Christi, Front Page

City Hall

     City Councilman Chad Magill’s questions raised about sales tax revenue at the October 17, 2015, council meeting seemed to foretell the message delivered to Council by City staff at the April 16, 2016 meeting.  At that time, Magill said,  “Corpus Christi has a strong economy right now.” Later he added, “Why I’m asking the questions I am is to prepare for potential challenges that may or may not come. But it’s better to be prepared and ready than not.”

     “We have been losing revenues through March 31 of this year,” said Deputy City Manager Margie Rose to City Council at the April 16, 2016, regular meeting. “We’ve lost about 4.9% of what was budgeted.  We believe we will continue on this track through the end of the fiscal.  If that is the case, we do believe that we will be short about $8 million as is outlined on the left side of the chart.”

Mid Year Budget Adjustment

     This shortfall staff attributes to a loss of sales tax revenue, a decrease in the property values for Flint Hills and Valero, and municipal court costs outweighing revenues.  Councilwoman Carolyn Vaughn said, “The municipal court really stands out to me.”  This concern was echoed by several other council members.

     “Whatever the issues are, they occurred beginning in Fiscal15,” said Rose, in response to Vaughn’s comment.

     City Manager Ron Olson explained what was being done to rectify the problems.  “The dip in the revenue is a result of the lag in receipts due to the implementation of technology.”  He explained that they are currently looking at this problem and at the judicial policies about setting payment plan.  “We’re in the process of looking at both,” Olson said.  “But cutting expenses is probably a bad idea in court, but getting all the planned revenue is something we really need to do first.  We’re working on that now.” Magill pointed out that outstanding warrants may also have potential revenue capture.

     Rose explained how the City could adjust the budget to make ends meet.  “We have about $10 million in of unreserved funds in our debt service funds that  we would like to use.  The $4,179,000 (See chart) would come from these unreserved funds,” she said.  Rose also told Council that:

  • $500,000 earmarked for Development Services would remain in the General Fund;
  • $151,000 of the budgeted $208,000 for Intergovernmental Relations Contracts with lobbyists at the state and federal levels would remain in the General Fund;
  • Cutting fuel costs and leaving open positions vacant in all departments except in the areas of engineering, streets, and public safety would leave $2,144,370 in the fund;
  • Rebates from MIS, Fleet, and Development Services would add another $1,025,630 to the kitty.

     Councilwoman Lucy Rubio asked about the Council’s request made last year to look into car allowances and electronic expenditures.  Olson gave an update, explaining that the car allowance policy has been amended to include contract positions only and that take-home cars have been reduced by 30 or 40 cars.  He also said, “The big money saver is going to be in electronics, like cell phones and iPads.” Olson related that in the past 10 years, each of the 34 city departments had its own service contract for the devices.  By bringing all departments under one umbrella using the same carrier, Olson said he believes the City will see about a 35% savings.

     “I know it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but at the end of the day, it all adds up.”

“No one likes to be in this position where we have to make adjustments because we’re over budget,”said Mayor Nelda Martinez.  Referring to the drop in sales tax revenue, she said, “We knew it was going to be lower, but we didn’t know how much, but we’re prepared for it.”

     Magill reminded everyone that the debt fund balance was at $15 million two years ago, then dropped to $9.9 million, and to around $5 million with the mid-year adjustment.  Magill asked if the City was still meeting the fund balance requirements in the fiscal policy, to which Rose answered, “Yes.  We are required to keep a reserve of 2%, which would be about 4 or 4.5 million dollars.”

     Earlier in the meeting, Magill said, “I’ll start at the bottom line, and the bottom line is that healthy fund balances see us through challenging times.  This is why we have a mid-year budget adjustment.”  He continued, “Fund balances make all the difference.  I always try to push to be as clear as possible on our fund balance policies.  Policies on both ceilings and floors of fund balance give predictability to our rating agencies.  That’s what helps our ratings in the future, too, and helps us pay less interest on our debt service.”

     Magill cautioned City staff, saying, “We don’t want to compound the shortfalls in sales tax revenue by not lessening our dependence on new property growth values. Often the city over the last few years has paid city employee raises – and more – with the 6-8% property value growth each year. Everything I am hearing right now is that 2016 is stable, but 2017 is where we see 2-3% property value growth.”

 

 

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

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