Details over line item cause budget debate - Valley Morning Star : Local News

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Details over line item cause budget debate

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Posted: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 10:26 pm

SAN BENITO — City commissioners on Tuesday delayed action on a proposed $972,773 budget for the San Benito Economic Develop-ment Corp. after heated debate over what they called its lack of details.

In a workshop meeting, commissioners questioned the omission of a $14,000 line item for management assistance services offered by the city to the EDC.

EDC President Pete Claudio said later the agency moved the $14,000 to its payroll account where the money could be available for a possible raise for Executive Director Salomon Torres.

“Nothing was hidden,” Claudio told Commissioner Joe D. Gonzalez. “Everything is there.”

City Manager Manuel Lara argued the EDC was late in presenting its proposed budget, a charge Torres denied.

The proposed $973,773 budget would include money to hire a second administrative assistant at a pay rate of $12 an hour, Torres said earlier.

The EDC dipped into its $1.3 million fund balance to offset a mid-year $386,833 deficit that arose, in part, from the March purchase of the Henry Thomae Funeral Home property.

Torres has said the EDC used $159,463 in agency money to pay part of the $385,000 purchase of the funeral home property, at 701 N. Bowie St. Most of the balance was funded from a 2007 sale of certificates of obligation, Claudio has said.

At the time of the purchase, Torres said the funeral home, which sits on 1.9 acres off the resaca, could be used for the city’s three museums.

But museum founders said they did not want to use the building for that purpose because it has been used as a funeral home.

Torres has said parts of the building could be used for EDC offices, while other parts could be classrooms for South Texas College’s proposed satellite branch, as well as a business incubator that would help entrepreneurs develop their products and services.

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