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“MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS ACCOUNTED FOR… WE WANT TRANSPARENCY”
In an effort to reflect the city’s continued commitment to providing public services and programs that enhance the quality of life for citizens, Pearsall city councilors reviewed budgets covering organizations and the fire department on Tuesday, August 8.
According to Pearsall City Manager Federico Reyes, the city uses hotel occupancy taxes (HOT) to fund four organizations – the Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Heritage Festival, Pioneer Days and the 4H Shootout.
This fiscal year, councilors decided to fund the chamber with HOT funds after nearly a 10-year lapse in disengagement.
Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, who serves as the chamber of commerce president, reviewed a proposed budget, requesting additional monies to fund a certified public accountant, executive director and administrative assistant.
“We do need support to get this organization up and running,” Sanchez said. “We do plan to be self-sufficient and we are not only focusing on helping businesses, but community at large.”
Vice President Oscar Vasquez joined Sanchez and noted that allocating a decent salary for an executive director is imperative to the success of the organization.
“We are asking for sixty-five thousand dollars for the executive director,” Vasquez said. “This will be someone who is qualified, someone who is going to knock it out of the park. We are also asking for administrative assistance to help the director.”
Vasquez said the organization plans to publish a visitor’s guide in the near future that will not only promote small businesses but highlight the citizens of Pearsall.
“The funds will be monitored and used strictly for promoting the citizens of Pearsall,” the vice president said of the need for funds to pay a certified public accountant for auditing purposes. “One main concern is to make sure everything is accounted for, we want transparency.”
Dr. Robert Gorhum, spokesperson for the Frio Pioneer Jail Museum, requested the city continue to sponsor their annual event held in March.
Records show that for the past five years the city has sponsored the event in the amount of $7,500.
This year marks the fourth annual Hispanic Heritage Festival, an event the city contracts Albert Martinez, owner of Motormouth Productions, to coordinate.
Martinez is currently under a three-year contract in which the city has allocated $90,000 annually for the event.
Pearsall Volunteer Fire Chief Placido Aguilar reviewed the fire fund with councilors during the Tuesday meeting.
“Most of our budget comes from the ESD [Emergency Service District],” the fire chief said. “There are a lot of things the fire department needs but the ESD is trying to help us collect the one-and-a-half cent sales tax from unincorporated parts of county but has to go through the voters, we’re hoping to get on the November ballot. It would double the budget for the department.”
According to Aguilar, the ESD pays the volunteer fire department $110,000; the city is paying $25,000 for a fire truck and $10,000 for a Christmas stipend.
The fire chief said he has a full crew of 18 firefighters that are all active.
“We actually put a hold on taking members, that has not happened in a while,” Aguilar said. “We average around 200 calls a year; that is not hours, that is calls. Some calls can be ten minutes, some can be three hours. They also come in once a week and practice to get used to equipment, these guys and gals do a lot.”
Aguilar warns that in the near future the city should consider hiring an administrative assistant to tend to the everyday clerical needs of the department.
“Sooner or later, you guys are going to have to hire an administrative assistant,” the fire chief said. “It is a full time job.”
According to Mayor Ben Briscoe the city does not plan to raise taxes for the upcoming fiscal year.