Houston City Council today voted unanimously to reappoint Gilbert Garcia, Allen Watson, Judge Dwight Jefferson, Carrin Patman and Christof Spieler to the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Board of Directors.
Garcia and Jefferson were present at the meeting, and spoke to the council about METRO’s possible November referendum for continuation of the General Mobility Program fund. The program, which is funded through 25 percent allocation from a one cent sales tax, pays for the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges and overpasses, sidewalks, hike and bike trails, streetlights and drainage improvements.
Garcia noted that METRO has made available information on the program and the possible referendum on the organization’s web site. METRO Referendum Web Site
“It lays out a timeline,” Garcia said of the site.
Garcia also noted that METRO would be meeting with the city council to receive input on the referendum.
Several council members praised the board on changes at METRO, particularly in its transparency.
“Obviously, you’ve turned around an agency in a short amount of time,” Council Member Stephen Costello said.
Council Member Oliver Pennington also complimented Garcia, but asked that METRO provide information on the impact of the General Mobility Program and to give voters a “clear choice” in November.
“I think that METRO is not just a transit agency, but a community-building agency,” Pennington said.
Council Member Andrew Burks also began to ask questions regarding the General Mobility Program. However, members of the city's legal staff stated that continued discussion of the item could violate the open meetings act, as it was not on the agenda. Burks instead asked that Garcia and Jefferson speak with him in private at a later time.
The city council voted unanimously to reappoint Maximiliano Cardenas, III and Martin Fox to the Houston Amateur Sports Park Local Government Corporation, Inc. Board of Directors.
The city council voted 12-1, with Pennington opposed, to amend an ordinance in order to increase a contract with Alvarez and Marsal Business Consulting, LLC for consulting services associated with citywide accounts receivables and collections improvements for the Finance Department.
The amount was increased to allocate an additional $1.46 million for the second phase of the contract, bringing the total contract’s maximum amount to $2,607,183.
“The contractor achieved all Phase I ARC project requirements and has assisted the city in generating over $1.9 million to date,” Finance Director Kelly Dowe said. “Policies, processes and systems have also been put in place that will generate an additional $6.3 million in FY2013 for a return on investment over four times the cost of the project.”
Pennington said the contract, in its first year, generated approximately $300,000 above the cost of hiring the consultant, and stated his concerns regarding future savings and collections the city would gain from the project.
“I’m just very discouraged in the program,” he said.
Pennington tagged two items on the agenda, which will be considered at the next city council meeting. The items tagged were:
An ordinance authorizing a contract addendum with the State of Texas and the United States Bank National Association for the city’s participation in the Texas Fuel Card for Fleet Services Program
Spending authority of $39 million for fuel cards and related services with the Bank National Association
Council Member Larry Green tagged an ordinance to amend an agreement with Gowan, Inc. for backflow preventers certification, testing and repair services.
All other items were approved by unanimous vote. Mayor Annise Parker and council members Helena Brown, Al Hoang, and Melissa Noriega were absent. Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez presided over the meeting. Agenda