The head of the Glen Rose Economic Development Corp. clashed with the Glen Rose City Council Monday night over whether the city inappropriately moved money from the 4B sales tax economic development fund and failed to reimburse it for work on the River Walk, a sum that totals more than $172,000.
City Secretary Peggy Busch disputed that the funds should be reimbursed to the GREDC, citing an opinion from Paul Braden, bond counsel with the firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. Braden wrote the contract between the city and the 4B board, Busch noted.
The GREDC board last week voted to hire its own lawyer and expert in 4B law if necessary and to “vigorously pursue” the reimbursement of monies it believes the city should have not withdrawn from its account in 2009 when Connally Miller, the son of former mayor Pam Miller, was the head of the GREDC, also known as the 4B Tax Advisory Board.
Darrell Best, the GREDC's current chairman, again told the council Monday night that it should reimburse the 4B $100,000 for maintenance and operations at Oakdale Park. Another $30,000 was to buy a mower and a Gator vehicle and almost $42,000 in expenses for the River Walk. He noted that the purposed of 4B funds is for economic development, not mainentance and operations.
Willshire & Associates, the Granbury accounting firm hired by the GREDC to get is financial books in order, said the economic development board was due the monies in an audit.
To further complicate the matter, board minutes from the GREDC meetings, during which the $100,000 in question was on the agenda, are missing.
Asked after the council meeting what happened to the minutes, Busch said, “That's a good question.” The former city clerk Mygnonne Thomas, who died last year, had been taping the meetings and transcribing them, but the minutes from several GREDC meetings in 2009 have disappeared, making it difficult to follow paper trail.
“They either were misplaced or never properly filed with the city secretary,” Best said in an interview last week after the GREDC board meeting. He called it a “signicant issue” since the monies were moved from the GREDC account without proper documentation.
“Board minutes do not support these transfers as they are either missing or state action to the contrary,” Best said in the interview.
At the council meeting, Best said it made no sense that the GREDC would pay $3 million in certificates of obligation to buy and renovate Oakdale Park and develop the River Walk and then turn around and give the city an additional $100,000.
Busch responded that the project was to renovate Oakdale Park.
Best said all the 4B board wanted was to make its books right and that, once the funds were reimbursed, the board could then vote to give the monies back to the city to fund projects such as repairing the pool at Oakdale Park.
It may be up to lawyers to hash out the details of what should happen next.
The GREDC board voted last week to put in place procedures to prevent such events from occurring again.
“We need to start a procedure by which once the minutes of the previous meetings are approved, the city secretary files them so a proper record is kept at Town Hall,” Best said.