Galveston City Council on Thursday voted to engage Weaver LLP as the city’s external auditor, replacing Whitley Penn (formerly Null Lairson) which has conducted audits for the city for several years. Listen
Interim Finance Director Judy Murphy said that her staff had recommended that the city continue with Whitley Penn, but a subcommittee of the Finance Committee recommended the switch to Weaver and that was accepted by the full committee for recommendation to the city council.
“I can tell you it was a very tough decision,” Murphy said.
Mayor Lewis Rosen suggested that the decision be deferred for additional consideration. Council Member Rusty Legg agreed.
“We have a very positive history with Whitley Penn,” Legg said, reviewing the city’s history with the firm. “I have been extremely impressed with them over many, many years on the various boards I’ve served on. I’d like to have a little more discussion.”
“You don’t want familiarity with your auditor,” Pappous said. “That is something you don’t want. That defeats the purpose. So when we talk about long history, that means it’s time to switch horses.”
Editor’s note: Neither Mayor Rosen nor Mayor Pro Tem Legg - who occasionally and sporadically presided over the meeting while Rosen sat quietly – stated which council members were in favor, opposed or abstained on the vote. It was difficult for those in the city council chambers, watching on television or following the meeting on the Internet to tabulate many of the votes because of the failure of the chair to communicate. City Secretary Douglas Godinich has been asked for a clarification of the tabulations which we will publish when it is received.
The city council voted to create Council Member Terrilyn Tarlton’s proposed Neighborhood Revitalization Ad Hoc Committee, with at least four members in favor. Listen
“We have Ms. Beeton, Rosen, Legg and Tarlton,” Rosen said. “None opposed.”
However Banks said that she abstained on the vote.
The city council voted 5-1-1, with Tarlton opposed and Elizabeth Beeton abstaining because of a conflict, to retain legal services from Jimmy Williamson, P.C. and Lewis & Williams LLP for the purpose of pursuing claims against BP or any other responsible party for damages related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The city council made appointments and reappointments to the Galveston Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors. Listen
The city council voted 5-2, with Tarlton and Robb opposed, to reappoint Norma Venso to the RDA.
“I would like to see some new blood,” Tarlton said.
The city council voted 4-3, with Pappous, Banks and Robb opposed, to reappoint Beeton to the RDA.
The city council voted on a motion to appoint Robb to the RDA. The motion failed but the division was not stated by Rosen or Legg.
Beeton sought to clarify the intentions of the other council members about whether they would like to serve on the RDA.
“Are you interested in going back on?” Beeton asked Rosen.
“I am very interested in going back on,” Rosen replied.
Banks said she also wanted to be appointed to the RDA.
Beeton said that Tarris Woods and Steve Greenberg, who currently serve on the RDA want to remain and she supports them on that issue.
“I am thoroughly intrigued that Council Member Beeton has an issue with replacing members that are on; because in her first year she replaced every member of the RDA when she came onto council,” Robb said.
“I can’t replace members of the RDA,” Beeton objected. “The RDA had several resignations.”
Finally, the city council voted to appoint Rosen to the RDA. Tarlton, Legg, Rosen and Beeton were in favor, Robb was opposed and Banks abstained. It was not clear from the discussion how Pappous voted.
Robb moved to replace Greenberg with Banks on the RDA. The motion failed by a 3-4 vote. Robb, Pappous and Banks were in favor; Beeton, Rosen, Legg and Tarlton were opposed.
Banks moved to replace Nelson Smelker with herself on the RDA. That motion failed on a vote of 2-5, with only Banks and Robb in favor.
The city council voted unanimously to reappoint Nathaniel Wilson to the Galveston Planning Commission.
The city council voted unanimously to appoint Banks as the ex-officio representative to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
The city council took no action on appointments to the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, the Galveston Housing Finance Corporation/Galveston Property Finance Authority, Galveston Intermodal Transportation Committee, Investment Advisory Committee, Landmark Commission, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, Police Pension Board, Tax Foreclosed Property Resale Committee, Galveston Port Facilities Corporation, Galveston Tree Committee, and the boards of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones 11, 12, 13 and 14. Candidates for the park board will be interviewed at the next meeting.
The city council voted unanimously to defer action on the proposed community swimming pool project.
The city council voted unanimously to defer action on award of a $122,032 bid from Excello Construction to provide housing reconstruction services at 2113 Avenue M ½.
An item calling for the termination of the city’s contract with Robert J. Barfield for municipal prosecutorial services was removed from the agenda by City Attorney Dorothy Palumbo and will be considered for action at the next meeting of the city council.
All other agenda items were approved unanimously. Agenda
A video of the entire meeting is available on the City of Galveston website. Click Here