Council starts search for City Secretary-Administrator

By Gilda Morales

City Council took the first step toward finding a replacement for retiring City Secretary -Administrator, Fran Malafronte last Monday night. Council voted unanimously to hire Clear Career Professionals, LLC from Plano, a company that specializes in executive recruitment and interim services. Ms. LeAnn Gallman, the new interim City Secretary – Administrator, will bridge the gap for three months while looking for a permanent replacement. Ms. Galman has about 35 years of experience as a City Secretary and City Manager and hails from Muleshoe, Texas. She will officially assume the interim position on February 1, 2023, and will be working three days per week for three months while the search proceeds for Ms. Malafronte’s replacement.

Two representatives from GrantWorks were present to give Council a brief update on the America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant. The original grant was for $428,000 for a capital improvement infrastructure project, but the project has come to a standstill because of a tremendous increase in material costs, which has stalled the start of the project. The price of the project increased from $1.8 million dollars to $2.4 million dollars, leaving the City $1.9 million dollars short.

The representatives outlined three options to deal with the shortfall: divide the project into 4 phases, identify other, less costly projects, or search other funding sources. City Administrator Malafronte volunteered to contact Government Capital, which has a long history with the City, to give a presentation for Council to outline funding options for the project. Council agreed with Malafronte’s proposal and will hear from Government Capital at the earliest available date.

In a surprise move, and over the objections of Alderman McDonald, Council moved to replace all but one of the current EDC Board members. At a previous meeting, Council had decided to request that current Board members reapply if they were interested in continuing to serve. Unlike previous appointments done in the past, these positions were not publicly advertised in the Advocate or the town’s website.

Per Krissy Truax Lerdal, EDC Coordinator, only two current members had reapplied to remain on the Board at the time of the meeting. Alderman McDonald suggested that Council keep the current board, stating that the members were doing a good job and should fill out the remainder of their terms, but other council members disagreed.

Alderman Corrales stated that he had some concerns with the current board not providing information that Council had requested some time ago and suggested that other residents should be given a chance to serve. Alderman Garibay agreed and reiterated that the EDC had not complied with Council requests for financials and other information and made the motion to replace all the current board members except for Lisa Cottrell. The motion passed with a 3 to 2 vote, with Aldermen McDonald and Morris voting against, and Aldermen Corrales, Garibay and Mendoza voting for. The new EDC board will include existing member Lisa Cottrell, and new appointees Jose Aleman, Dione Corrales, Isaac Badillo, Yolanda Urias, Gilda Morales, and Bill Meadows.

In other business, Council:

Reassigned Utilities Director Jony Garcia to oversee the Golf Course

Reappointed Starvanna Cottrell and Krissy Truax Lerdal to the Zoning Board

Awarded the bid for City Depository to the Van Horn Bank

Heard from Rachel Mendez, Code Enforcement, regarding the upcoming condemnation of several properties on Broadway pending getting a certified building inspector to officially condemn the properties. She also reported that the old Carrillo house on La Caverna, just south of the courthouse had already been demolished, but that further demolition requires that the Utility Department staff have uninterrupted time to do so. As such, she and Jony Garcia requested approval for overtime on a Saturday to complete demolition on several other properties, including the old McVay Courts, the Gomez house on Ash and the Snyder house on Broadway. Utilities Director Garcia added that the City has a special permit at the landfill that allow dumping of demolition debris, but that doing so requires strict record keeping for TCEQ

EDC Coordinator and CCVB Marketing Director Lerdal updated Council on ongoing and potential future projects, and reported that the EDC will soon be working on their budget and would welcome suggestions from Council


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