The Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors on Tuesday voted unanimously to send a resolution to Texas Governor Rick Perry asking that he not sign legislation that would mandate Brazoria County to withdraw from the H-GAC, if it is passed by the Texas Legislature. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
The legislation is included in House Bill 4511 by Representative Dennis Bonnen and Senate Bill 1471 by Senator Mario Gallegos.
“This bill has been revised and it would now require the State Auditor to perform an audit of H-GAC, for which we would pay,” reported H-GAC Executive Director Jack Steele. “I think the odds of this bill passing are significant.”
Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark asked Brazoria County Commissioner Mary Ruth Rhodenbaugh her opinion of the legislation.
“Not to put you on the spot commissioner, but we’ve got this bill floating out here and it would be good to find out what y’all think about it,” Clark said.
“First off, we were not consulted before the bill was filed and it was as big a surprise to us as anyone,” Rhodenbaugh said. “I would guess that our court might be divided on that. I personally would like to see us remain with H-GAC.”
Stacy Adams, also a member of the Brazoria County Commissioners Court, was present at the H-GAC meeting. He noted that both state senators who represent Brazoria County are opposed to the legislation.
Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, a longtime member of the H-GAC Board, is opposed to the legislation.
Steele said that Gallegos has problems with the H-GAC.
“Senator Gallegos, as you know, in all due respect to him, just doesn’t feel that he was well treated by H-GAC, beginning with the closing of two work force offices in his community,” Steele said. “He is a highly motivated individual.”
Colorado County Judge Al Jamison, who chairs the H-GAC, noted that the organization is not opposed to being audited, but pointed to an extensive audit just completed by Chuck Yaple of Null-Lairson PC.
Houston City Council Member Anne Clutterbuck, chair of the H-GAC Audit Committee, said that her group reviewed the audit prior to the board meeting. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
“The audit was a good audit,” said Nancy Haussler of the H-GAC staff. “We had an unqualified opinion from our auditor, which is the highest level opinion that you can get on this audit.”
The board heard reports but took no action on the 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and the 2008 H-GAC Employee Retirement Audit Report; and voted unanimously to approve the H-GAC Internal Audit Report.
The board of directors approved the replacement of equipment and an upgrade and a microwave connectivity project management amendment related to the 9-1-1 system which serves eight of the 13 counties in H-GAC. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
“Some of you may recall in 1987 when H-GAC first got involved in 9-1-1," said Deidre Vick of the H-GAC staff, describing the simplicity of the original system and detailing some of the new features that will be included in the upgrades, such as "On-Star" crash information, car phone video, text messages and instant messaging.
Commissioner Clark noted that Galveston County is not in the service area targeted for the new system.
“Actually, Galveston County has already implemented this system,” Vick replied.
The H-GAC board deferred action on resolutions honoring the service to H-GAC and the region by Missouri City Council Member Eunice Reiter and Pasadena City Council Member Dana Philibert until the next meeting.
All other agenda items were approved. All votes were unanimous. Absent from the meeting were Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald, Conroe Council Member Toby Powell, Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas, La Porte Council Member Chuck Engelken, Jr., League City Mayor Toni Randall, Missouri City Council Member Brett Kolaja, Pasadena Council Member Dana Philibert, Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson and Meadows Place Alderman Terry Henley.