The City of Alpine held its first regularly scheduled meeting of 2021 on Jan. 5, and discussed appointment of a new city attorney.
City Manager Erik Zimmer indicated there were three prospective candidates, outgoing 83rd District Attorney Sandy Wilson of Marathon and two external applicants, Denise Frederick of San Antonio and Greg Wortham, a former mayor of Sweetwater.
Zimmer said he talked with both attorneys who had expressed interest in a full-time position. However, he said there would be budget constraints to hiring and attorney full time, necessitating a possible budget amendment.
Mayor Andy Ramos also cited budget concerns and reiterated that the city couldn’t afford a full time attorney, but both candidates accepted working for the city part time.
Frederick then addressed the council, saying she had 20 years’ experience as city attorney in San Antonio.
Council, Ward 2, Chris Rodriguez praised Frederick’s qualifications, but added, “The only issue is that you are not a litigator, and we would have to outsource that which would be an added expense.”
Ramos agreed, adding, “I have an issue with that. I think you need to be able to take care of everything if you are going to be a city attorney instead of outsourcing.”
Council, Ward 5, Rick Stephens indicated additional feedback from the candidates was needed to make a decision, and amended the motion to table the issue until the council formally interviews the candidates. Council members then voted to table the issue.
In other business, Zimmer asked the council to approve a HOT Fund recommendation that would require a budget amendment later. He said there were five future projects for consideration - the Alpine Visitors Center capital improvement project at a cost of up to $175,000, video production and promotion for $25,000, podcasts and an audio walking tour app for $4,000, a film production lodging incentive for up to $2,500, and a railroad park sculpture at a cost of $600.
Zimmer said the big-ticket item was the visitors center project, and a budget amendment would need to be examined. The council voted unanimously to approve the HOT funding recommendation and budget amendment, which would be reexamined at a future council meeting.
Zimmer then discussed the city’s vision and strategy as moving forward, citing several priorities and ordinances. Alluding to the city’s Vision Plan implemented in 2015-2016, Zimmer asked the council decide what was still relevant today, what the city should work on, and what should be redirected.
Finally, the council voted unanimously to approve the notice for the city’s general election to be held on May 1. Up for grabs are positions for three council positions,Ward 1 currently occupied by Maria Curry, Ward 3 held by Betty Fitzgerald, and Ward 5 held by Rick Stephens.
The next regularly scheduled city council meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom videoconference.