City Council review even center funding, report upcoming air quality testing

The full city council of Borger was present at the latest regular meeting this week
Alex Mann
Managing Editor

A recent meeting of the Borger City council saw the review of a number of local topics, including an important ordinance that allocates funds for a number of capital projects, included the much anticipated local event center that is currently being planned.

“This ordinance was introduced two weeks ago, and this is the second and final reading of that ordinance.” City Manager Eddie Edwards begins, “It basically adjusts the current fiscal year budget on various capital projects to align with the resolutions council had passed back in the first part of November. It reduces the anticipated issuance of debt down from $8 million to $3.9 million, it also adjusts the revenue of three of the projects to align with the resolution. It reduces the issuance of debt from $1.5 million down to $750,000 on the transfer to the multipurpose events fund, it also allows the transfer of $750,000 from the tourism fund to the multipurpose events fund.”

Spending any large sum of money is potentially controversial, and after raising several objections to the spending and debt in previous meetings, Councilman Odis McClellan posed several questions during Tuesday's meeting regarding the liability of the city if the donated funds were misused. “Eddie and I had discussed this earlier, and I had questioned him on amounts this large and the Amarillo Area Foundation.” McClellan asks, “We've got $1.5 million of Borger money over there... If someone decided to go to South America with it, and was successful, how is Borger covered?” According to Eddie Edwards, the Amarillo Area Foundation, the entity collecting and holding money for the event center's construction, is bound by several laws and limitations when accepting public funds. “I talked to the Amarillo Area Foundation, they're a $250,000,000 philanthropy... and the way they handle public funds is when we invest that with them, we are physically moving that out of City of Borger control into their control, but it's still in our name, and we say what happens to it. Unlike donations that would be made towards the center by organizations or private individuals, that is not public money. The money the city invests would be public money, and would be subject to Public Funds Investment Act.” Edwards says, “What they do with the public money is they turnaround and invest that with Amarillo National Bank into the seeder program, which is an approved public funds investment.” At this point Mayor Vinyard asks, “So what I'm hearing is that it's protected?” Edwards then responds, “Yes. And it meets the letter of the law for the Public Funds Investment Act.”

A handful of other topics were raised during the brief meeting as well; notably, a policy change regarding the fire marshal's office project and news of local air quality testing. “During a number of work sessions we talked about restructuring the fire marshal's office and removing the supervision from the fire chief.” Edwards explains, “We're actually going to put that under the office of emergency management, and we'd like to have the fire marshal, the emergency management coordinator, and the director of emergency management operate as a team. This ordinance basically cleans up the codes of ordinances which require the fire marshal report directly to the fire chief.” Edwards later continues with the next agenda item, “I was approached recently by the TCEQ [Texas Commission of Environmental Quality] and they would like to set up an air monitoring site to monitor industrial emissions, I'm assuming of the various plants, they weren't specific on which ones they were going to monitor.” According to the report, numerous testing sites will be established across the area to take samples of local air quality.

For those interested in attending future council meetings, the next gathering is scheduled for Tuesday, December 29, and locals can contact City Hall for specifics on time and current agenda items.