La Feria still looking for missing money

LA FERIA — The city is not bankrupt.

“I just want to make sure the public is aware the city is able to provide its basic services,” said Jaime Sandoval, La Feria city manager. “And the city is operating the way it’s supposed to.”

Nothing has changed and no money has been found nearly one month after the City Commission announced there was a shortfall of nearly $3 million.

The City Commission had instructed Sandoval to file a lawsuit against Sunny K. Philip, La Feria’s former city manager, in an effort to find the missing money.

The city was looking for $6.4 million in funds linked to certificates of obligation that were for street improvements, drainage and building infrastructure.

La Feria City Attorney Rick Navarro said money is unaccounted for and it’s possible it was spent inappropriately.

Sandoval said the city attorney is in the process of filing a lawsuit.

“Basically, the city is meeting its obligations and meeting its payroll,” said Sandoval.

“It’s going to be a tight budget from here to the next fiscal year.”

Sandoval said the city will have to cut expenses and “hopefully” not get anymore “surprises.”

“Our finance team has a good grasp and we’ll ride the ship until the next fiscal year,” Sandoval said. “We are doing the best we can with what we have available.”

In the meantime, Sandoval has hope the money will be found or the annual audit under way now will pinpoint where the missing money is or how it was used.

He said the audit should be ready by April with enough preliminary numbers to review the 2016 fiscal year.

“We don’t have the money and we are still reviewing transactions and still uncovering a lot of information and hopefully we can find the monies,” Sandoval said.