Saying he wanted a video about Mineral Wells featuring him rather than former Mayor Mike Allen, current Mayor Christopher Perricone was criticized and his effort rebuffed by city council members Tuesday.
Ward 2 Councilwoman Tammy Underwood had placed on the agenda a contract signed by Perricone with CGI Communications without first receiving council approval. The agreement gave the company permission to solicit businesses for inclusion in a marketing video.
Underwood accused the mayor of acting outside of his authority.
"My first concern with this is that it was signed by Mayor Perricone without bringing it before council," she said.
At-Large Councilman Brian Shoemaker shared Underwood's concerns, questioning the mayor about signing an agreement without council's authorization. He also asked Perricone if he first checked the company's online reviews.
"Did you talk to anybody before you signed it?" Shoemaker asked the mayor.
Perricone said he saw nothing wrong with signing the contract and asking the company to come and produce a marketing video that included himself. The contract did not obligate the city financially to any costs, and CGI would own the video.
Legal counsel Andy Messer said the signed agreement was not a binding document.
"There's no downside to it," Perricone said. "I thought I did everything accurate. I'm not sure what all the concern is."
"You were prepared to execute this document without our approval," Shoemaker responded.
At-Large Councilwoman Regan Johnson questioned the need for the same company to return so soon after completing a similar marketing video project for the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce. The costs to businesses to participate in the video are $1,000-$5,000 annually.
"It seems redundant," Johnson said. "At the end of the day I don't think it's the city's role to endorse a company to solicit our businesses."
Perricone made a motion to accept the contract and allow CGI to produce the video with the city's backing. The motion died for lack of a second.
Perricone got a win from council when it passed a policy to allow audio recordings of closed session meetings.
The mayor asked the city to opt for audio recordings because it simplify his efforts in creating a hand-written accounting of executive sessions and provide what he said would be a more accurate record of the meetings.
Whether written or recorded, closed-door meeting notes or recordings are sealed and stored and are not public record. They can only by made public by a court order through a civil lawsuit challenging a governing body's executive session.
Growing building inspections demand led Mineral Wells City Council Tuesday to approve an agreement to use Bureau Veritas North America Inc. to provide licensed inspectors when needed.
"We need help without inspection services," said city Finance Director John Moran. "They are understaffed."
Bureau Veritas would only be paid when requested, Moran said, based on a set fee schedule. He said the costs charged to companies and individuals requesting inspections would remain the same.
"We are going to have to look at that fee structure going forward," Moran told council. "We will need to look at that, but for now we will use our current fee structure."
Moran said with increased building activity, especially commercial development downtown and in other areas, the city is finding it difficult to timely complete inspections.
Mark Jones, west area manager for Bureau Veritas, said the company will perform inspections to city code and building standards and provide a report to city building officials for action such as issuing a permit. Jones said his company does not issue citations.
Essentially the company would be used for new construction projects.
"This is the most cost-effective way of doing it without adding staff," said Moran, which would mean the city pick up salary and benefits costs.
"God-willing that department isn't going to slow down anytime soon," said Ward 3 Councilwoman Beth Watson. "This is a good stop gap."
Perricone questioned the company's online reviews, calling them low, but Moran said he checked with other cities that have used Bureau Veritas and said his past experiences with the company have been good.
Council approved the agreement unanimously.