Glen Rose City Administrator Michael Leamons lays out some details of past events that have proved costly to the city’s taxpayers.
Editor’s note: Glen Rose City Administrator Michael Leamons submitted this article about some events that have impacted taxpayers over the last few years.
By Glen Rose
City Administrator Michael Leamons
Last year, it was a shock to learn that the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) hadn’t been processing the payment applications for the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and related wastewater collection projects correctly, and told the City, effective immediately, it needed to come up with about $1 million in local matching funds before any additional TWDB funding would be released.
In a letter to TWDB Executive Director Jeff Walker, I explained: “There is some confusion about the City’s obligations in connection with the EDAP Program funding that the City has received.
“According to documents I’ve seen, the City’s involvement with TWDB’s EDAP program began in 2013. Since that time Glen Rose has been served by no less than 4 City Administrators, 1 Interim City Administrator, 5 City Secretaries, 1 Interim City Secretary, and 4 Mayors.
“Furthermore, not one member of the City Council who was serving as recently as May 1, 2018 is still serving in that capacity. So, there’s not much in the way of institutional knowledge in Glen Rose that I can call to my aid in ascertaining our obligations.”
All the turnover that has taken place in Glen Rose in recent years has come at a high price to local taxpayers. A total of around $100,000 was paid to two departing City Administrators, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. At the recent April 13, 2020 Council Meeting, a franchise agreement with United Electric Coop was approved which is expected to bring in about $14,000/year in franchise fees to the City. While auditing other such franchise agreements with Texas New Mexico Power Company and Atmos Energy, the current administration discovered that although United had been providing electric service to areas of the City for about 20 years, no one had ever initiated a franchise agreement. Years of lost franchise fees!
Then, last year we discovered there were several houses in a new subdivision which weren’t being assessed City property taxes even though those houses were in the City. Someone had failed to notify the Appraisal District about those annexations. Lost property tax revenue! And, last year when we sent the State Comptroller’s Office an updated city limits map, staff was told that the City hadn’t provided any updates on annexations to that agency since 2012. Years of lost sales tax revenue!
Then, late last year we moved funds from one bank account to another account with a higher interest rate. The custodian of the latter account told our staff that the account had been opened 6 years ago and that they had wondered why no funds had ever been deposited in it. Years of lost interest revenue!
These are just some of the things that we’ve encountered during the past year and a half since the new administration (City Administrator Leamons, City Secretary Ritchie, and Deputy City Secretary Sosol) has been in place — things which had fallen through the cracks because of the high rate of turnover. Other local governmental entities don’t have this problem.
Superintendent Rotan has been at GRISD since 2006 and General Manager Taylor has been with the Water District since 2001. So, why all this turnover at City Hall?
One hopeful development in the City’s administration was the election last year of Mayor Pam Miller. Being a lifelong resident of Glen Rose and having served as Mayor from 2004 to 2010, Miller brings a considerable amount of institutional knowledge to the job. Moreover, with all those years of experience, she knows how to use her powers as Mayor and is working hard to get things headed in the right direction.