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WORKSHOPS ATTRACT PUBLIC INPUT, DE LA ROSA SAYS
The city of Cotulla will draft a new outline of its development goals with the help of a local man whose company made a successful bid for the planning job this month.
Head of Aries Consulting and a native of Cotulla, Ernie De La Rosa told city councilors at their meeting on Thursday, July 13, that he feels a personal connection to the community and that he believes his family ties will be a benefit in creating a strategic plan whose goals run the gamut from economic development to infrastructural improvements.
Cotulla’s last strategic plan, drafted ten years ago, included such goals as furthering development of the municipal airport and encouraging development of highwayside businesses that would fuel the city’s sales tax revenues. Almost all of those goals were ultimately met, according to City Administrator David Wright, who said this month that he believes a city must set a strategic plan in order to encourage progress in ways upon which all elected officials and stakeholders have agreed.
A single item outlined in Cotulla’s 2013 strategic plan foundered this year and remains a prominent absence in the city’s checklist of goals met, since voters rejected a proposed city charter in May and chose not to switch the municipality to a home rule system of government.
De La Rosa has been hired for a fee of $45,000. His services will include hosting a number of public meetings, consultation with councilors and city staff, and the strategic plan’s final draft. After that, he said last week, Aries Consulting remains in touch with its clients in order to provide assistance in meeting the goals that have been set, such as grant and loan application, real estate and annexation planning, business promotion, and a branding program that helps promote Cotulla as a viable site for development.
Councilors concurred with De La Rosa at the July meeting and at his earlier appearance for a presentation in June that Cotulla may be marketed as a site benefiting from its critical position on the IH-35 corridor.
“Strategic planning will depend on community input,” De La Rosa said on Thursday. “We will distribute a survey, and we will host public meetings, workshops with the public and with the council.
“Aries stays with a city during the administration, the implementation of a strategic plan,” he added. “We will help you reach your goals. We will take this plan and champion it with any developer who will listen.”
Mayor Javier Garcia acknowledged that Cotulla benefited from its earlier plan and that while much of the city’s growth may have occurred during the energy industry boom over the Eagle Ford Shale, it was the existence of a plan drafted by elected officials more than a decade ago that served as a guide in councilors’ decision making.
“A lot of businesses are still coming in,” the mayor said last week. “We have a Love’s truck stop opening soon. A lot of our success has been due to our strong working relationship with the county. These two government entities working together can accomplish more than any one of us ever could alone.”
The move to hire Aries was made on a motion by Councilor Manuel Rodriguez, seconded by Councilor Eloy Zertuche and supported by Councilors Tanis Lopez and Gilbert Ayala. Councilor Alejandro Garcia Jr. was absent from the meeting.