February 4th, 2014

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City of Alpine
Regular City Council Meeting
February 4th, 2014
6:00 P.M.

1. Call to Order, Invocation and Pledge of allegiance to the flag – Mayor
Rangra called the meeting to order. The invocation was given by Damien
Grout with Holy Cross Anglican Church. The Pledge of allegiance to the flags
was led by Mayor Rangra.

2. Determination of a quorum and proof of notice of the meeting – Mayor
Rangra and Councilors Bermudez, Fitzgerald, Gonzales and Castelli were
present. Councilor Davidson was absent. The meeting notice had been
posted at 3:00 P.M. on January 31st, 2014.

3. Presentations, recognitions and proclamations –
A. Proclamation for American Cancer Society proclaiming February as
National Cancer Prevention month. (A Rangra, Mayor) – Mayor Rangra
presented a Proclamation to the American Cancer Society proclaiming
February as National Cancer Prevention month.

4. Reports –
City Mayor’s Report – Mayor Rangra said Sul Ross is looking for a new
President. He said he met with Vice Chancellor Dr. Perry Moore and other
officials for an hour and one half and they talked about issues about the
community. He said Sul Ross is important for us. He said not only for Alpine
but for all the outlying areas. He said that was very fruitful.

City Attorney Report – Mick McKamie met with the council remotely. He said
his firm has met with the City Manager and they have received assignments
from the staff and their attorneys are engaged on working on some of those
projects. He said they hoped to have some results by the next meeting.

City Manager Report – The City Manager said a lot of our focus has been with
the finances and the budget as well as the audit. He said he did want to report
on our bulk trash pickup that occurred over a three week period in January.
He said it was very well advertised. He said the first week we picked up 7.87
tons of bulky material, the second week we picked up 5.39 tons of brush and
the third week 2.28 tons of metal. He said we worked with the staff and Ron
Poor who is with TDS, and who is here tonight, to really work back the
community on the schedule and pickup. He said a lot of calls came in to both the city and TDS. He said they put out their stuff on Sunday night and come
Tuesday or Wednesday it still had not been picked up. He said what we are
really engaging on for our April pickup is to focus on getting that pickup
schedule out there so that people know when Ron and their team are going to
be by. He said it was a very much successful bulky trash pickup. He said at
the last Council meeting we talked about the Governor’s Community
Achievement Award. He said the final proposal was submitted this last week.
He said he provided a copy for the council to see what that finished product
looked like. He said notification to recipients is due by March 4th of this year.
He said we feel like we have a good shot at receiving this award. He said the
anticipated award amount would be $130,000 in landscaping here in Alpine.
He said that would be a real shot in the arm for us and we cannot go on
enough about the work that Martha did in putting that proposal together.
He said concerning Code Enforcement, we had 26 code violations this week,
8 investigations initiated and 9 court cases are pending. He said 6 building
permits, 7 plumbing permits and 6 electrical permits were issued. He said we
are continuing to see increased usage of the website that Mr. Polanco
constructed this last year. He said he is also posting history of code
violations, permits issued and Q and A’s for residents. He said it is not only a
great asset and a great site to go to, a lot of questions that residents have
can be answered simply by going to that website.
He said concerning law enforcement, the big note here is we completed a
traffic study. He said Councilor Castelli had requested it last fall and it was on
the 1100 Block of East Avenue B. He said for those of you who do not know
the area it is up there adjacent to the University. He said it is kind of a
downhill run so there is definitely a concern there as far as speed goes. He
said we focused the study from January 24th through January 28th and felt like
SRSU was in session and we would collect the best data. He said mean speed
varied daily between 20 to 23 miles per hour in a 20 mph zone. He said the
average speed was over the posted speed limit. He said in that span we did
record 4 vehicles over 40 mph. He said Chief Scown put some additional
patrols there issuing warnings and citations as appropriate and did provide
copies of the detailed data for councilors to read through. He said to please
feel free to ask questions.
He said last council meeting we committed to providing the full construction
list for our road projects this year. He said we are targeting 38 streets in the
city. He said these are what Hector and his team decided, and also he went
out with them and gave his opinion, and input from other departments, as
well as community residents have expressed their opinion as far as our key
needs in the city. He said he would be posting this on our city of Alpine
website so residents can look in. He said he always welcomes phone calls or
visits if people feel like maybe there is a road that we possibly missed. He
said he knows a lot of residents will also talk to their councilor about this. He
said we feel like this is an aggressive push to get 38 roads done this year and
we are very excited about the progress there. He said we have to get the list
out early so that we can have our gas company and water company go through and really look at the infrastructure. He said we got initial feedback
from our gas company outlining where the infrastructure is and their needs
are concerned. He said obviously with a project like this the last thing we
want to do is cut the water or gas and make somebody out for a day or two.
He said TCEQ was scheduled to come out this past week to provide a follow
up for our sanitation facility, our wastewater treatment plant. He said they had
some illnesses within their staff and had to push their visits out. He said we
were hoping that later on this week or next week they will come and based on
Virgil’s analysis last fall, we had some key initiatives we were working on at
the wastewater treatment plant and so this is TCEQ coming back with a
follow up visit. He said he has also reached out to Pamela Aguirre there and it
looks like she will come down in a couple of weeks and visit with him and the
water department too. He said we feel like we are on track with making any
additional corrections or modifications.
He said the water department has been hit hard with illnesses across town
and we have a lot of people sick in the water department, especially. He said
it has slowed us down a little bit on some of our proactive initiatives. He said
one of the things we are targeting is how to reinstate the affluent water usage
to the area between East Brown, Fighting Buck Avenue and Loop Road. He
said you are looking at the golf course, Kokernot Park area. He said right now
we are pushing affluent water down the creek outside the wastewater
treatment plant. He said once we get in compliance of what we can push back
into the community area we are going to do that. He said we think that is a
great way to green up Alpine. He said we are dispensing the water anyway.
He said it is only the power, cost of energy, to get it back here which is very
He said concerning the finance department, a lot of audit questions continue
to come in. He said Megan told him today for every 20 they answer, it seems
like they get 40 more. He said initially we were targeting for Craig Gibson to
present the audit to us at the next council meeting but they have asked to
move that out to the first week of March. He said the inclination there is to get
this one right. He said it has been a lot of information from the past
management of the bookkeeping and accounting to the conversion to a new
system and the audit in 2013 is very important to the city. He said we need to
make sure we get it right and that it is accurate, and that the action plan is a
good robust plan. He said W-2’s and 1099’s went out this past week and we
have developed our equipment disposal forms and process of our purchase
order forms. He said he is listing these things because he is continually
amazed at how much our finance department is getting accomplished right
now. He said our new finance director Megan is doing a wonderful job and
inspiring her team as well as the budget revisit that we will review this
evening. He said we have a lot of tasks coming out of the holidays and they
are executing very well in getting things started. He said we also distributed
budget variance reports to our department heads this morning. He said
another commitment we made is on the second meeting of every month to go
through our budget variance and show how we are doing according to the adopted budget. He said working on that, to be ready for the meeting in two
weeks. He said there is a super effort by our finance team over the last
several weeks. He said they are doing a great job. He said in the midst of
some of the challenges that we have had here in Alpine when folks step up to
the plate they really produce great work and he thinks it is important that we
recognize them. He said thank you to Megan and her team. Councilor
Fitzgerald asked if there was anything new that he could share with the
Council and with the public on the status of the investigations. The City
Manager said as far as individual employees, we cannot share anything from
a privacy standpoint. He said we continue to make progress each week on
defining what he would categorize as all of the repayments based on any
payroll loans or payroll advances with an anticipated date of completion of
that by the middle of February. Bob Litton asked if there were 38 streets or
blocks that the city was going to start working on. The City Manager said
blocks. Manfred Fritsche said he wanted to point out that effluent was spelled
wrong. Mayor Rangra asked if any staff members were going to speak. The
City Manager said we asked a couple of staff members to be here this
evening based on what is on the agenda. He said we covered everything.

City Staff Updates –
Megan Antrim, Interim Finance Director
Robert Polanco, Code Enforcement
Judge Schlosser, Municipal Judge
Russell Scown, Chief of Police
Virgil Clark, Interim Utilities Director
Randy Guzman, Gas Department Manager
Martha Latta, Recycling Coordinator
Hector Ramirez, Director of Public Works
Johnny Galvan, Airport Manager

5. Citizens Comments (on agenda items) – None

6. Public Hearings –
A. Public Hearing to obtain citizens comments and questions for zoning
change requested from R-4 to C-1. Owner wants to open a
restaurant/bakery on the corner of South 11th and Gallego. Property
identification /street address is S. 11th and Gallego. Legal description is
Gillis 3rd Addition, Block 9, Lot 1. Record owner is Rudy Baeza and Agent
is Julian Baeza. (E. Zimmer, CM) – The City Manager said we had our
Planning and Zoning meeting this past week and the Planning and
Zoning Commission asked Mr. Baeza and Mr. Baeza to provide a more
detailed plan of what they wanted to do at the next planning and zoning
meeting but since we had already posted the public hearing we had to
include it on the agenda this evening but it will come back to us next month. He said we should pass on this, this evening. Mayor Rangra
asked for any public comment on this item but there was no public
B. Public Hearing to obtain citizens comments and questions concerning
the replat of the North part of Block 6, Means A Addition. The property
was initially platted as one complete block and submitted to the county
in February of 2006. The proposed replat of the property is consistent
with, and exceeds the requirements of the zoning related to the area, R-
2. The owners intended use will be for single family residences, whose
requirement of a 7,000 square foot lot minimum is easily met. (E.
Zimmer, CM) – The City Manager said he would make some comments
and the property owners are here, who might want to make additional
comments. He said the Planning and Zoning Commission met on this
item as well. He said it was also recommended for approval by our Code
Enforcement Official, Mr. Polanco. He said we had a robust discussion
at the Planning and Zoning meeting around what the property owners
wanted to do and how infrastructure was being handled there and how
our utilities were being delivered to the property. He said there is a new
road or a road that is less than three years old that is in front of that
property and we had some discussion about the impacts of moving
water and sewer under the property. He said post the discussion the
planning and zoning committee recommended it to be submitted to the
City Council and they approved it. There was no other discussion on
this item.
C. Public Hearing to obtain citizens comments and questions for Home
Occupation Permit Application for Shanna Cowell Hickle for White Crane
Acupuncture Clinic. Residence and Clinic is located at 303 E. Sul Ross
Avenue. This application is for a licensed professional. The request also
contains a sign variance. (E. Zimmer, CM) – The City Manager said Ms.
HIckle previously had the sign at a similarly zoned residence about two
blocks to the East of where she moved to. He said upon discussion with
Mick McKamie, our City Attorney, any time a resident wants to move or
an office business wants to move from one location to the next if they
have a variance, the variance does not trail them or follow them to the
new residence. He said Ms. Hickle was asking for a couple of things. He
said one was the home occupation permit application to be approved
which our Code Enforcement Officer and he reviewed as well. He said
both of them approved that there was one exception on that and that was
the variance for the sign itself. He said by Ordinance the sign needs to
be, on a home occupation, one foot by one foot, mounted on the side of
the residence. He said this one is a sign that is in the front part of her
yard. He said there was a large amount of support present at the
Planning and Zoning Commission meeting for Ms. Hickle. He said the
Planning and Zoning Commission talked about it and felt comfortable in recommending that the variance be granted and for this to be passed on
to City Council. He said Ms. Hickle has provided documents for everyone
and he believes that she is here and would be willing to say a couple of
words. Shanna Hickle asked if anyone had any questions. Mayor Rangra
said the Council cannot ask questions at the public hearing. Shanna said
she would like to thank the Council for allowing her to be here today so
that they could consider her application. She said she realizes her sign
is in non-compliance. She said if the irregularity of her sign causes the
City Council to vote against approval of her application, she said she
would be perfectly willing to move her sign. She said she has been in
residence and business on Sul Ross Avenue since January of 2006. She
said in 2006 she met with the City Code Enforcement officer at the time
and she does not remember his name. She said she was in an R-2
location at 505 E. Sul Ross in 2006. She said the Code Enforcement
Officer at that time stated that she could operate her business there with
the condition that it was also her home. She said she placed her sign
there believing it to be okay and did business there from 2006 to 2013.
She said it is her understanding that at some point, during that time,
after she had established her business at 505 E. Sul Ross, her sign was
grandfathered in and adjustments were made to the zoning enforcement
in the neighborhood. She said during 2012 she was informed by her
landlord that the property at 505 E. Sul Ross was up for sale and that she
would be forced either to purchase the property or to move. She said she
did not wish to purchase the property so she waited and watched for an
investment opportunity to appear before there was a contract on the
house. She said in the fall of 2012, she was contacted by her current
landlord who was in the process of purchasing the property two blocks
away at 303 E. Sul Ross. She said that is two blocks closer to the
business district than where she was previously. She said apparently her
new landlord had been informed by the previous owners and someone at
the County that the building was zoned commercial which led her to
believe that neither the business or the sign would be an issue. She said
however, they were obviously mistaken as she found out a few weeks
ago. She said Robert Polanco came by and said the property was
actually in an R-2 zoning status just like her last location was. She said
she realized that it was her responsibility to contact the Code
Enforcement Officer before she agreed to move. She said she is
throwing herself on the mercy of this Council and ask for consideration
of the following: A) according to the special exception clause in the
appendix “c” of the zoning ordinance, under home occupation and
signs, “A special exception is a use that would not be appropriate
generally or without restriction throughout the zoning commission or
district but which if controlled as to number, area, location or
relationship of the neighborhood would promote the health, safety,
welfare, goal, order, comfort, convenience, appearance, prosperity or
general welfare. Such use may be permitted in such zoning commission or district as a special exception if the special exception is made in a
zoning ordinance.” B) She said her sign was previously grandfathered
in. C) None of her neighbors object to her sign or business as it stands
now. She said it would be kind of a hardship for her to put acupuncture
on a small sign because the word is eleven letters long. She said she
sees between 5 and 10 patients every day, Monday through Friday, and
she fears that some percentage of them may experience confusion and
not be able to find her office and end up bothering her neighbors or end
up knocking on the wrong door. She said this goes to order, safety and
convenience under the special exceptions. She said her business brings
in 5 to 20 people each week from the surrounding towns to bring sales
tax revenue and business to our area. She said that goes to prosperity
under special exceptions. She said the consensus that she has heard
from the people that she has talked to is that they find the sign
aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with a more artsy appearance here
in our community which goes to appearance under special exceptions.
She said she would be willing to make any kind of compromise to reduce
the size of the sign a little bit in any way. She said she was currently in
negotiations with the artist who did her original sign. She said the day
before Robert visited her she was in negotiations with him. She said he
lives in Mexico and he was coming here to work and she was going to
get him to paint her a new sign. She said she is going to be making a
new sign sometime this year but it will be something along the same
lines or smaller but pretty much exactly like the old one. Rick Stephens
said he is speaking in support on behalf of Shanna’s proposal. He said
he is on the Board for the Regional Rehabilitation Institute in Chicago,
the number one recognized neurological rehabilitation in the nation for
the last 22 years. He said what Shanna is bringing to Alpine is pretty
important and it is recognized by the medical communities as an
important medical practice and he would urge the City Council to
approve this. Carl Fleming said he would speak in support of Shanna’s
proposal. He said Shanna’s sign does not stand out on Sul Ross
Avenue. He said acupuncture is not main stream yet. He said it will not
be long before people accept it.

7. Consent Agenda – (Minutes, Financial reports, Department written reports,
Board appointments, etc.) –
A. Approve Accounts Payable (E. Zimmer, CM) – Motion was made by
Councilor Gonzales to approve the accounts payable, by Resolution
2014-02-01. Motion was seconded by Councilor Fitzgerald. Motion
unanimously carried.

8. Information or Discussion items –
A. Karen Brown, Director of Alumni Affairs of Sul Ross State University to discuss upcoming events. (E. Zimmer, CM) – The City Manager said he
had the pleasure this past week in speaking to Karen concerning an
event that they are hosting at Sul Ross. Karen Brown said the Council
may have seen the signs or the newspaper ads concerning the 5K run on
February 15th. She said it is a collaboration between the Alumni
Association and SRSU and Chamber of Commerce. She said that the
Relay for Life, wanted to do something that was healthy and also would
raise money for good projects here in town and in our community. She
said also all proceeds would go to the Food Pantry and Sul Ross local
scholarships. She said the money will be earmarked for kids from Jeff
Davis, Brewster and Presidio Counties. She said donors have the option
of choosing whether they want to make a donation to one or both causes.
She said so far she believes they have about 100 participants. She said
they are hoping for some more participants. She said if you are
interested, it is really easy to sign up. She said the information is on the
back of this card and you can always call the Alumni office. She said as
soon as you are registered they set up a fund raising page for you. She
said they have some great prizes. She said they are being sponsored by
some generous sponsors, Big Bend Regional Medical Center, Tallent
Roofing, Alpine Medical Center, West Texas National Bank, Aramark and
Porter’s Thriftway. She said if for some reason on that day you cannot
participate or walk or run, or you don’t want to, you can still participate
as a virtual runner/walker and fundraiser. She said she thinks this is the
right kind of thing to get involved in, getting the students from Sul Ross
and everybody, including the students from the local High School
involved in caring and sharing.
B. Revisit FY 2013/2014 City of Alpine Budget. (E. Zimmer, CM) – The City
Manager said a lot of time and effort went into this budget revisit and the
Council and the Mayor were provided packets on Friday. He said there
would not be enough time this evening to go through line item by line
item. He said we worked very hard to get the Budget revisit in front of the
Council, in outlining down to the level where the changes were. He said
what he would like to do is talk through some of the significant changes
that were made, the reasons we made them, and talk about what we
believe will be a positive story for our budget this year. He said then we
will answer any questions from that point. He said the budget revisit was
done basically using two snapshots. He said we looked at it 80 days into
this fiscal year cycle and then we looked at it again 115 days into the
cycle. He said at the 80 day point, Deborah Pattison was still our interim
finance director, so he and she went through all the items and then at the
115 day point, Megan Antrim and he went through them. He said what
they feel, is that taking this look twice at this, they understand the
trending to spend, and they have been able to look at a lot of the details
as far as what we are spending. He said we are curbing a lot of items
right now, items that historically have been run rate spending. We are now asking our departments to go back and curtail some of that
spending. He said the worksheets that were provided all showed our
previous three year actual, FY 2011, FY 2012 and FY 2013. He said also
what we had spent through January 29th of this fiscal year. He said we
really looked at our unemployment claims. He said historically if an
employee has been terminated for whatever reason, especially for last
year, we have not challenged these unemployment claims and we
continue to pay them out. He said we saw that in increased
unemployment expenditures and the original budget had the higher level
of unemployment claim dollar amounts. He said we went ahead and
brought all that back and it is his opinion that if an employee is
terminated, 9 times out of 10 it is for cause. He said we do not have an
employee reduction plan going on right now. He said if we terminate an
employee for cause and they file unemployment, then we challenge that
claim. He said we definitely throttle back those. He said also, we got
pretty strict on our salaries, overtime, social security and really pulled
back a couple of the groups on their spending there. He said we still
believe we can under run in the departments. He said right now what we
are hoping to be able to do is any under runs on the salaries or overtime,
social security and insurance that we would build those into a reserve
account for our healthcare. He said we do utilize a partially self funded
health care program and because of that the health care plan covers up
to a certain dollar amount but then the city is liable, after that point, so we
need to establish some monies in reserve and currently we have zero
allocated in reserve, for health care. He said we want to utilize any excess
to build up the reserve accounts there. He said that is a critical piece that
we are looking at. He said we are also looking at, what he and Megan
term methodology, that we will use on our enterprise departments where
we have revenues that exceed our expenses. He said it appears that
historically in the past they have just done budget transfers over to the
general fund, or shown a transfer and have assigned it as a transfer in
lieu of a franchise fee. He said what we are looking to really demonstrate
is how each of our enterprise departments…how profitable are they? He
said where our revenues exceed our expenses, then take that and
move that into a reserve account. He said that is going to be important
from a visibility perspective for the Council as we think about the future,
what proactive projects we are wanting to do in the community and which
particular enterprises are performing well and how they are performing.
He said alongside that we are looking at cost allocations for our four city
Staff members. He said for people who work here in City Hall, Texas
Water Development Board has recommended that you take allocations of
that cost against your different enterprise functions out there. He said we
are working on what those allocation percentages would look like. He
said that is not being presented this evening but within a couple of
months Megan and he look to present what those allocation percentages
will look like. He said we feel very comfortable with this budget revisit, what we are proposing to the council. He said it really sets us up to be
able to have a very good budget process for the next fiscal year and we
will start in June of this year. He said the other key thing to know which
has caused a little bit of confusion with a couple of our departments, and
that is on October 22nd at the City Council meeting there was
authorization to set up separate accounts for each of these enterprise
business units. He said that did not get executed on. He said currently all
of our expenses are being paid out of our general fund. He said all of our
revenues, with the exception of the gas department, come into the
general fund. He said the gas department actually comes into its own
checking account. He said ultimately by April 1st, which is our target date,
we will be able to follow through with the council’s recommendation and
resolution to set up the separate checking accounts. He said the reason
why we are targeting April 1st is because it is the middle of the year in the
financial cycle and if there is any fallout, it is easier for us to identify at a
mid-year conversion, vs. a mid-month or a mid-quarter conversion. He
said it also gives us an opportunity to get through this past year’s fiscal
audit. He said we feel that getting into that environment will also help us
from our reporting perspective, be more clear and transparent to the
council and to the community as well. He said we are very committed to
executing on that. Mike Perry asked when the resolution was passed. City
Manager Zimmer said October 22, 2013 in a special council meeting. He
said he cannot go without saying here is the good news. He said when
we look at this budget revisit, we ask ourselves if the revenue going to
exceed the expenses. He said the answer is absolutely yes. He said what
we are targeting across the city is to have our revenues exceed our
expenses by $644,000 this year, which is significant. He said he does
have some risk there. He said we have a very aggressive street and
maintenance program. He said we have asked our director of public
works to be very tight on his salaries. He said we feel that we need to
challenge ourselves as a city staff to run our expenses as low as possible
this year and be able to run in the black and have some excess that we
can start building up reserve accounts with. He said that will then allow
our council to make some decisions positively on how we will spend
money to improve our infrastructure. He said as he noted earlier, we have
to build up some reserve in our healthcare. He said we have to build back
some of our customer liability accounts for our water and gas
department. He said we should be able to do that this year provided we
do not have anything unforeseen. He said this is also making all of our
debt obligations this year. He said the major risk is the unknown, but
what we challenge ourselves from a staff perspective is to really be very
careful on how we spend our money. He said part of rolling out a new
purchase order to invoice process and part of rolling out this budget
variance process and part of rolling out our asset control process is
to be sure our department heads absolutely understand how they are
spending money and they are absolutely accountable for that. He said our budget variance reports that went out today went to the department
heads. He said they did not go to our finance department to figure it out,
they went to our department heads, because they want the
accountability. He said they want to know how much they have in their
budget and if they are spending within those amounts. He said
unforeseen things can hit us, but we still need to put a target up on the
wall and shoot for it. He said with that being said, he would be glad to
answer any questions. Councilor Fitzgerald asked if when he was going
through this process if he had the opportunity to evaluate his suggestion
of using some of the sales tax to fix the roads this fiscal year. The City
Manager said first of all we went back up to $100,000 in road materials.
He said it had been significantly cut for this fiscal year so we wanted to
reinstate and that was about a sixteenth of a percent for what we
reinstated. He said with what we anticipate running in the black this year,
it will be an opportunity for the council, at their discretion, to say they
would like to target some of these extra dollars at road projects. Manfred
Fritsche said he and the Mayor served on a Charter Review Commission
many years ago and they spent a lot of time on the financial and
budgeting part of the City Charter. He asked the City Council and City
Manager to refer to Article 5 of the City Charter. He said this required an
Ordinance to amend the budget. The City Manager said the Council
would only take action by means of a City Ordinance to amend the
budget. He said we went ahead and went back to this past year what
revenues we attained out of 2012/2013 and then put a little bit of stretch
target on that. He said the reason we put stretch target on that is we did
feel like there were some under billings going on. He said we had done
some meter change outs with some folks that had zero billings and they
would then start billing. He said we felt that there was an upside to it and
that was a critical element in providing a stretch target there. Mayor
Rangra said we also cut the expense account by $220,000. The City
Manager said that was correct, to get more in alignment with our
expenditures from the year before as well. Mayor Rangra said related to
that is a question on water. He said we also projected increased revenues
in water. The City Manager said the water revenues were kind of tricky for
us because of the volatility from year to year. He said if you get into a
water rationing environment too then all of a sudden that puts a real
impact on your ability to bill revenue. He said we really looked at what
that last three year average was and felt like that would be a solid
projection to make. He said ultimately, what we want to get to is a month
over month view and a quarter over quarter view. He said we think that
will be the most healthy view to have as we extrapolate. He said if the
council will have him work here for many years then that is his goal too,
building that over time. He said that is really what we need to do. Mayor
Rangra asked if money was transferred from the enterprise fund to the
non-enterprise fund. The City Manager said this has been an evolving
learning process for himself and for our finance team as we are trying to navigate through how the accounting and bookkeeping was handled in
the past and how the interim team handled it and what was the right
process moving forward. He said what had happened toward the tail end
of this last fiscal year is the notion around how do we track budget
transfers within the budget and make sure that we are making
declarations and not just moving money around. He said and absolutely,
the transfer requires council approval. He said as a City Manager or
finance director you do not just go in there and start moving money from
account to account. He said what we started seeing and what kind of
came out this last week was that the gas company in particular, was set
up awkwardly, in the sense that it had its own checking account to
receive monies in, but all of our expenses were paid out of the general
fund so all of a sudden we start building up this account here but we are
not paying any bills out of it. He said then you have to make a transfer
out of that account back into your general fund where you have set up
paying all of your bills out of. He said because we were so concerned
about showing the transfer and making sure that the transfer was
documented because past practice was just to float money around, it got
documented as an additional expense. He said you paid all of your
expenses which showed in your income statements and then you did this
budget transfer which was just taking money out of an account to cover
these expenses and we showed it as an additional expense and so
ultimately the councils notion of setting up the separate checking
accounts for enterprise funds was really the absolute right guidance. He
said doing that and allowing us to receive the monies in one account and
then paying the expenses out of that account as they come in is really
critical and that is why we are targeting trying to accomplish that by April
st. He said it has been a learning experience for his virtually and as he
has shared with some folks the past kind of accounting and bookkeeping
and cash flow was what he would call awkward at best. He said he has
never seen anything like it and it does not make sense to him. He said we
are making sense of it and so as we move into this budget cycle now we
feel very good and very comfortable that we have a beat on these
expenses and a beat on the movement of money and that we understand
the elements in presenting it to the council so the council can make a
good decision and authorize the spending as necessary. Mayor Rangra
said money transfers sometimes are to take care of expenditures that
should have actually have been deducted from the proper account. He
said that was no amendment last year and that was the big issue. He said
Texas Water Development Board was concerned about it and it was a
question on how this was explained. He said he is glad that the City
Manager is providing the explanation. Joseph Goldman said the City
Manager mentioned the revenue over expenses in the amount of $644,000
and asked what percent that was of the entire budget. The City Manager
said it was about 6% of the budget. Mr. Goldman said maybe it is the next
item that is going to be discussed but he wanted to know if he was tying any of the utility uses and expected revenue to the actual weather and
climate conditions that have occurred in the last 3 to 4 years. The City
Manager said that is why we look at 3 years plus how we are trending this
year. He said we know we had very much of a drought and fire issues a
couple of years ago and in the winter you have cold spells and we are
really trying to look at that trending over a period of time. He said the
goal is over the next several years to even narrow that down to a month
over month so if we see an ice storm like we had in November we would
anticipate a peak in gas sales and a reduction in water usage because we
had so many people without power.
C. Performance of gas department for the first four months of current fiscal
year. (E. Zimmer, CM and J. Gonzales) – Councilor Gonzales said on
January 22nd, 2014, we held a special meeting which was a training
meeting which was to learn to read and better understand the Hill
Country Software and the information it provides. He said he is looking
for transparency. He said he wants to be able to determine what he is
reading. He said the item on the gas expenditures spoken about was not
on the agenda, alleging clear evidence of utility loss but with no proof. He
said it is no longer known as Southwest Municipal Gas Corporation. He
said it is the City of Alpine Gas Department as of February 22nd, 2012. He
said he asked if we could review this subject and asked that it be placed
on the agenda so that it could be discussed. He said we must follow the
rules and keep from violating TOMA. He said we must follow the rules on
how council members are to question items instead of using the media to
make allegations and implications of loss. He said we must use the chain
of command and ask the City Manager to talk to the financial director to
find the facts. He said it should not be personal and downgrade fellow
councilmen, councilwomen and the Mayor. He said it should not be
grandstanding or political. He said our charter says that the City Council
can investigate and that is in Section 3.11 of our charter but it does not
single out one councilman to investigate information to be shared with all
the city council enacted as a group. He said basically he thinks we need
to follow the procedures that we have been trained on to do our job as
city councilmen and not be trying to be a leader in the sense that they are
the one who has the information and they want to share it with the rest of
them. The City Manager said the performance of the gas department for
the past four months, one of the things that he wants to try to go through,
because there has been heightened visibility to it, the other element is
that our spot rate came in a little higher so the community is
experiencing a little bit of an increase. He said the spot rate came in
higher prior to any of the recent conversations. He said increasing is
going to happen regardless. He said the first quarter of our fiscal year is
always going to be a slower quarter for us on the revenue perspective
because we are basically looking at gas usage from September, October
and November. He said we also try to do some of our proactive work during our off times so our expenses tend to be a little bit higher. He said
with that being said we did operate at a negative in the first quarter. He
said $18,000 in the negative in the first quarter for the gas department.
He said we also had this thing that we talked about earlier, the budget
transfer. He said that created a confusing piece in the sense that we
were taking money out of this checking account to pay bills and so it
adds to the expense and it really appears like we were running very
poorly in the gas department. He said as we sorted that out and sorted
through some of the, what he would categorize as poor ways, that our
interim financial team had set up some of the procedures within our new
software system, we found where these challenges had come from. He
said what he can say is, when we move into our fourth month, our
revenues did come in higher in January as we anticipated and our
expenses were consistent to what we expected as well. He said with that
being said, through January, we are $90,500 to the positive in our gas
department. He said if you look at $18,000 negative to $90,000 positive
we made a $108,000 turnaround in January. He said the gas company in
that enterprise piece of the business was not one that he had on the 180
day plan as far as a keep focus area. He said on the financial side we
really focused on reconstructing the budget and understanding the
budget and also understanding some of our previous obligations, the CO
2011 and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Grant. He said the gas company
also, as it was digested by the city and kind of split up a couple of years
ago, as we are looking at budget and cash flow, it gets a little harder for
us to even see the history because one company operated it and then we
brought it in and then we updated the software program. He said that has
caused a lot of different things for Megan and he to have to go through.
He said they are very committed to going in and looking at the history of
the gas company. He said four of the items that people point out are this
kind of service delivery up charge that went from $5.00 per mcf to $8.00
per mcf. He said it would appear that when that occurred we should be
able to operate in a stronger profit mode in that enterprise unit. He said
he cannot sit here and tell the council his opinion on it until he has a
chance to go through that history from 2010 moving forward. He said he
is very agreeable, if it is the council’s wish to add that to the 180 day
plan. He said he would always ask that when we add something, we
remove something too. He said that is a fair request. He said he thinks
that is what is wrong with corporate America is that they continue to lob
stuff on and they forget that you have to deselect something too. He said
in life in general you can only do so much. He said we are very agreeable
to replacing that and providing more of a focus. He said he and his staff
want to feel like they are very available to the council and that we can sit
down and visit and clear through some of these challenges. He said we
knew it would be a bumpy road coming in. He said there are things that
we learn every day. He said his goal is to provide everybody who sits up
there with good information so you can make good decisions on a day to day basis. He said we strive to do that but we are not perfect. He said he
thinks we are making some headway in that. He said he is very pleased
with our performance out of our gas account or gas company over the
last month. He said he thinks it is important to share that. He said Megan
and he talked today about how do we make sure in the software if we do
transfers that we have approved at the council level, how do we make
sure it does not show a duplicative expense in the chart of accounts. He
said she and I have some homework to do to figure this out. He said at
the end of the day, the better information we provide to the council, the
better decision making the council can make.

Action Items to be accompanied by a brief statement of facts, including
where funds are coming from, if applicable. (Action items limited to 15 per

9. Discuss and Consider approving replat of the North part of Block 6, Means
A Addition in Alpine, Texas, as recommended by the Planning and Zoning
Commission. (E. Zimmer, CM) – The City Manager said this is the property
that Ms. Wimberly and Doctor Manning spoke earlier about. He said it was
recommended by our Planning and Zoning Commission. He said we had a
very healthy dialogue. He said our only concern from a city perspective
was how we could minimize any cuts in the road and he felt that Ms.
Wimberly and Dr. Manning would agree that as they sell off those plots of
land to make sure that we really hold to the integrity of this recent
ordinance. He said his recommendation was to approve this. Motion was
made by Councilor Fitzgerald, by Resolution 2014-02-02 to approve the
replat of the North part of Block 6, Means A Addition in Alpine, Texas as
recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Motion
unanimously carried.

10. Discuss and Consider approving Home Occupation permit application
and sign variance for Shanna Cowell Hickle, who operates White Crane
Acupuncture Clinic, as recommended by the Planning and Zoning
Commission. Residence and Clinic are located at 303 East Sul Ross
Avenue in Alpine, Texas. (E. Zimmer, CM) – The City Manager said Shanna
came up and spoke with us earlier today and shared with the council
really almost the same comments that she had shared with the Planning
and Zoning Commission. He said he spoke with Shanna before the
Planning and Zoning meeting. He said he was very impressed with the
diligence of going through and really looking at our city ordinance,
looking at why she wanted to request the variance as well as the
importance of the sign in the community. He said we should identify other
similar areas within that ward that have similar type signs so it would be
nothing of any major discourse in that area. He said also she did her
homework in communicating with the residents adjacent to her. He
thought it was very healthy so that there were no surprises and nobody coming in and saying “I absolutely hate this and I don’t want this”. He
said he absolutely appreciates the diligence and he thinks that it does fall
within the variance guidelines. He said most importantly he thinks her
home occupation permit should be passed so he recommends that the
council approve it. Motion was made by Councilor Gonzales by
Resolution 2014-02-03 to approve the Home Occupation permit
application and sign variance for Shanna Cowell Hickle, who operated
White Crane Acupuncture Clinic, as recommended by the Planning and
Zoning Commission. Motion was seconded by Councilor Fitzgerald.
Councilor Fitzgerald said she has been in business a long time and the
sign has been there and if none of the neighbors object to it, he thinks it
should be approved. Motion unanimously carried.

11. Discuss and Consider amending FY 2013/2014 City of Alpine Budget. (E.
Zimmer, CM) – The City Manager said as we went through the information
in the discussion item, the recommended changes to amend the FY
2013/2014 City of Alpine Budget we feel it really falls in alignment of how
we will spend and we also feel like we have done our diligence and we
have been very assertive in working across our different departments to
feel comfortable with the ability to hold in our expenses and provide a
product that is really operating in the black for the community. Motion
was made by Councilor Bermudez to amend FY 2013/2014 City of Alpine
Budget. Motion was seconded by Councilor Fitzgerald. Councilor
Bermudez said this budget was a lot better than the one that we have.
Councilor Fitzgerald said the City Manager has obviously done a lot of
work on this. He said this was not just haphazard. Councilor Gonzales
said he would like to point out that the City Manager did maintain what we
had before and obviously he studied it. Manfred Fritsche said he had
before him the City Charter. He said in section 5.06 it talks about Budget
amendments after adoption. He said an amendment is being offered and
considered by the council. He said a motion has been made and
seconded. He said the public has none of the details about what is being
amended. He said as he pointed out in his earlier comments Section 5.06
(d) calls for a city ordinance. He said it calls for a city ordinance during
which the public gets a chance to look at what the details of the
amendment are, make comments, publicize and none of this has been
done. He said he does not know what the City Manager has in mind in the
way of budget amendments but this appears to him to be a clear violation
of the city charter. He said the council needs to consider that. Mayor
Rangra asked the City Attorney, Mick McKamie for advice. Manfred
Fritsche said he could not believe that the City Manager had not
familiarized himself with the city charter. The City Attorney said he
understands the question to be whether or not the charter requires an
ordinance to amend the budget. He said the charter and state law both do
require an ordinance to amend the budget. He said the budget can only be
adopted by ordinance and amended by ordinance. He said he understood from the discussion tonight was to allow the City Manager to make any
changes to the budget and we can certainly have an ordinance drafted for
the next meeting to be approved by the council. Councilor Gonzales said
he had before him the charter and it says that any time during the fiscal
year the manager may transfer part or all of any unencumbered
appropriation balance among programs within his departments. He said
we still have an opportunity to create an ordinance. The City Attorney
said yes, it can happen any time during the year. Councilor Gonzales said
since we are still in discussion maybe we can make an amendment to
allow the City Manager to create an ordinance to amend the budget. The
City Attorney said any change to the budget that constitutes an
amendment would need to be done by ordinance. He said it appears that
after the discussion tonight there are items that need to be transferred
and it would require an amendment so we need an ordinance at the next
meeting. He said the council can determine tonight the items that need to
be included in the ordinance. Councilor Bermudez made an amended
motion, by Resolution 2014-02-04, to allow the City Manager to create an
ordinance to amend the budget as reflected in his presentation at
tonight’s meeting. Councilor Castelli said he had a question along those
lines. He said Manfred Fritsche made a big point about information for
the public. He asked if this was something that we could put on the
website in a reasonable fashion so that it could be reviewed. He asked if
it was reasonable that we could do that. The City Manager said we
created an electronic copy to send to the City Attorney and we can
definitely post that to the website as well. He said it is close to 100 pages.
Motion was seconded by Councilor Gonzales. Motion carried

12. Discuss and Consider setting reserve level for Hotel/Motel funds
recommended level is $80,000. (E. Zimmer, CM) – The City Manager said
as we
look at the hotel/motel funds, this year we enter the year with $100,000 in
reserve and a $380,000 projection of revenue into that hotel fund. He said
currently we have allocated about $405,000. He said in in the council’s
packet he provided some background information on the overview that we had done
on the hotel funding usage and some deeper background in history. He said
what we are trying to do right now is understand if there is a reserve level that
the council would like to manage to so that we do not overallocate from this
account. He said as we exit one year and move into the next year, we have
some early year expenditures that typically hit, like the funding of our tourism
adjacent to the Chamber of Commerce. He said what we are envisioning is setting our reserve level so that we do not over allocate from that fund during the year and that was the thought at recommending $80,000. He said the
idea around this was to set a reserve level of about $80,000 and we really
wanted to understand if the Council is comfortable with that or if there is a different
level that the council wanted to set. He said the reason why this is important to
us on the city administration side is throughout the course of the year we will
continue to get requests that will come in for events and if we hit that threshold we
want to make sure that the council understands where we are at in our
projected status so we do not over allocate. Motion was made by Councilor
Gonzales by Resolution 2014-02-05, to approve setting the reserve level for the
Hotel/Motel funds at $80,000. Motion was seconded by Councilor Fitzgerald. Councilor
Gonzales said going through the list he saw a lot of people who barely
qualified. He said we need to address that and probably let everybody know that
this is what is happening. The City Manager said Beth Nobles is hosting a
conference here at the Civic Center at the end of this month that is more of a regional
conference talking about promoting tourism in Southwest Texas, Big
Bend Region, but we have invited everybody that has received an allocation and
the real idea is to talk to them like Councilor Gonzales recommended, on the
usage of the fund, to make sure that they are submitting receipts. He said we are
setting up a booklet so that in the future if an auditor comes in and says
how are you utilizing the hotel fund, we can basically hand them the booklet
and say these are all the events that were awarded funding and here are the
receipts of how they spent the money and ensure that it is within alignment of the
guidelines. He said we are confident that we will have that whole book for
this year’s fiscal budget. Councilor Gonzales said there is also an advertising percentage that we are supposed to spend and asked what the percentage was. The City Manager said 50% and 15% on the arts. Councilor Bermudez
asked if the Council could attend the conference and if it was for everybody. The
City Manager said he thought if we invited council we would need to post it as
a meeting. Councilor Bermudez said she thought it would be helpful. The
City Manager said we can and will do that. Motion unanimously carried.

13. Citizen’s Comments (limit 3 minutes) –
Dale Christopherson – said he thought this was a good meeting.
14. Council Member’s Comments and Answers –
Councilor Castelli – said once again the City Manager has taken us
another step
in the right direction and he does appreciate his service.
Councilor Gonzales – said he really appreciates the City Manager’s hard
Councilor Fitzgerald – said the City Manager also has good staff and good
people too and he has good organization going on. He said it is a welcome
Councilor Bermudez – thanked the City Manager for everything he is doing and has done.
Mayor Rangra – Mayor Rangra said he had coffee with some people who said
that the City Manager had attended a Planning and Zoning Commission
meeting and they were so impressed with that. He said everything went smooth
and the right questions were asked and they had all of the information. He said the
City Manager and his staff provided the all the right information.
Motion was made by Councilor Fitzgerald to enter into executive session.
Motion was seconded by Councilor Gonzales. Motion unanimously carried. 15. Executive Session – Pursuant to Texas Government Code, Subsection
551.074, Personnel Matters –
A. Discuss and Consider pay raise for city employee. (E. Zimmer, CM)
16. Action – Executive Session –
A. Take Action, if any concerning pay raise for city employee. (E.
Zimmer CM) – Motion was made by Councilor Fitzgerald, by Resolution
2014-02-06 to accept the City Manager’s recommendation in respect
to this employee. Motion was seconded by Councilor Bermudez. Motion
unanimously carried.

14. Adjournment– There being no further business, meeting was adjourned.
I certify that this notice was posted at 3:00 P.M. on January 31st, 2014, pursuant to Texas
Open Meetings Act. (Texas Vernon’s Annotated Civil statutes, section 551.043 Texas Government
Code.) This facility is wheelchair accessible and accessible parking space is available. Requests for
accommodations or interpretive services must be made 48 hours prior to this meeting. Please
Contact the city secretary’s office at (432) 837-3301 or fax (432) 837-2044 for further information.
Dr. Avinash Rangra, Mayor
Margaret “Molly” Taylor, City Secretary
I, Margaret “Molly’ Taylor, City Secretary, do certify that this notice was posted at 3:00 P.M. on January
31st, 2014, and remained so posted continuously for at least 72 hours preceding the scheduled time of
said meeting.
Margaret “Molly” Taylor, City Secretary

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