WESLACO — The city’s Economic Development Corp. board members again agreed not to take any action on items at its most recent meeting when legal counsel advised against it.
Last month, the city commission voted to change its rules to allow elected officials to serve on the board and named four commissioners to the seven-member board. The commission also eliminated the geographic requirements that each member must be from a different commission district.
But Richard Talbert, the Economic Development Corp.’s attorney, said the city should have waited to appoint new members until after the new rules were filed by the Secretary of State and the city received a certificate of filing.
“My recommendation is hopefully the city will follow through with the ratification of this action so there is no question that this can be challenged,” Talbert told the group at its scheduled meeting time last week. “In my opinion, the procedure the city took left the board completely in limbo after the certificate of filing of the articles. That was why it was requested by the city to be ratified; unfortunately it wasn't.”
Talbert made a similar statement at the board’s last scheduled meeting, which took place the day after the commission voted to make the change. Economic Development Corp. Director Hernan Gonzalez then put in a request to city officials, requesting an item on the city’s next agenda, but City Manager Leo Olivares was out sick and the item didn’t make it onto the agenda.
“In my opinion, the board of directors doesn’t exist at this time,” Talbert said.
Olivares, who has a law degree, attended the Wednesday meeting and disagreed with Talbert’s opinion, though he deferred to Talbert, saying he was the controlling legal opinion in the matter.
“To say it's in limbo is an exaggeration,” Olivares said.
He added, however, that the situation can be fixed at the city’s next meeting.
Commissioner Jerry Tafolla, one of the members of the new board, said he and others met with the city attorney, who said the actions the city took were legal and the board could proceed.
“We can conduct business,” Tafolla said. “I don’t see where we will be sued.”
He suggested a motion to see who would like to proceed with the meeting’s agenda, but it wasn’t followed through.
Leti Aleman, who was reappointed to the board pointed out nothing on the agenda was time sensitive. She’d rather stay on the safe side. And Commissioner David Fox, who also was appointed to the board, and agreed with Aleman on erring on the side of caution.
When asked why there was such a rush to get down to business, Tafolla said he’d been asked about the board by people wanting to bring businesses to town.
“We need to see where we’re at as far as the different projects out there, prioritize them and move forward,” Tafolla said.
Julie Silva is editor at the Mid-Valley Town Crier in Weslaco. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.