Victoria Canton commissioners voted absolutely to absolved themselves from accompaniment behest laws because of the emergency created by Hurricane Harvey, Canton Judge Ben Zeller said Tuesday.
His comments came during a Victoria Economic Development Corporation affiliation affair that focused on apropos aloft by two airport commissioners about how and why Victoria Regional Airport allowance money was spent afterwards Hurricane Harvey addled Aug. 25, 2017.
At their June 27 meeting, airport agency administrator Trey Ruschhaupt and abettor Dennis Patillo capital to apperceive why the airport administrator and added commissioners were told “to break out” of the controlling process; why one Kansas-based aggregation handled both remediation and aliment at the airport; why the assignment did not go through the behest process; why the invoices for completed assignment were abandoned of detail; and why added than $500,000 could not be attributed to specific aliment at all.
At the VEDC affiliation affair Tuesday, Zeller said canton commissioners voted absolutely Sept. 11, 2017, to appoint the Virtus Group, and afresh the afterward anniversary voted absolutely afresh to appoint the aggregation to abide to do the repairs.
Virtus admiral accept not alternate calls for comment.
Zeller said the work, which has totaled $2.6 actor to date, did not go out for bid because the canton was acting beneath an absolution that allows emergency aliment afterwards the accepted behest process.
“The angle that we bypassed bid laws is ridiculous,” he said. “Like I said, a few account on the internet researching that would’ve answered that question, which to some appears to be a abundant mystery, and it’s absolutely absolutely simple.”
But Victoria Canton Abettor Gary Burns, who said ahead that he anticipation the emergency behest absolution was “abused,” again that affair during and afterwards the VEDC meeting. Although the cloister did vote to appoint the Virtus Group while application the emergency exemption, he said, the aggregation should accept done alone the emergency repairs, which “doesn’t accommodate disturbing bottomward barrio and the added assignment that followed.”
“You’ve got to assure bounded taxpayers, and we should’ve accustomed them the chance,” he said, “because best of that assignment was not life-threatening assignment that bare to be done appropriate away.”
Airport abettor Buddy Billups additionally batten during the affiliation affair and criticized the Sunday Victoria Advocate commodity about the June 27 meeting. “Suggestions aural the article, in my opinion, were incomplete, maybe misleading,” he said. Billups was at the commissioners’ June meeting, but he didn’t allege during the chat about Virtus because he “really had no concerns.”
“So I assumption I’ll aloof acquaint you, there was a active altercation on ‘maybe we should’ve done this, how could we accept handled this different.’ … That’s hindsight, two years ago,” Billups said. “We capital some answers, and I’m assured we’ll get the answers.”
An added point of affair that arose at the airport commissioners’ June affair was about $400,000 of allowance money that went into acclimation the officers’ club at the airport. Airport commissioners had recommended not acclimation the building, but Zeller said canton commissioners chose to advance in the area because of its actual and association value.
During the June meeting, airport administrator Lenny Llerena said the officers’ club had brought in alone $4,000 annually in rental use and it would booty abounding years to pay off a $400,000 adjustment bill alike if the rental acquirement could somehow be brought up to $10,000 annually.
During the VEDC meeting, however, Zeller said he had new projections from Llerena assuming the area could accomplish $40,000 to $50,000 a year in rental income, authoritative it “one of the bigger income-producing assets out at the airport.”
“I anticipate the absolute agent in all this is the association who best up the cardboard cerebration they were accepting account but were larboard with a lot of inaccuracies that casting a actual incorrect ablaze on the accord amid the airport and our county,” Zeller said.
Airport abettor Dennis Patillo, who was not at the VEDC affiliation meeting, said after Tuesday that he capital to reiterate “there was never an absorbed to allege anyone of anything” and that the questions he asked during the June affair were those he would ask his own advisers apropos “any abundant business transaction, as this was.”
Burns, who additionally abounding the June airport agency meeting, said he anticipation the advice in Sunday’s commodity was actual and fair.
“I anticipation the way the Advocate bidding our concerns, which they got off the band of the meeting, was authentic and aloof fine,” he said. “I don’t anticipate there was any artifice or any annexation in all of this, and that’s not what the commodity said, and I still angle abaft that the airport agency and administrator should accept run the operation.”
“It doesn’t accomplish faculty how aggregate was done,” Burns said, “and we deserve answers about these concerns.”
Morgan Theophil covers bounded government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be accomplished at 361-580-6511, [email protected] or on Twitter.
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