Natalia City Council approve inter-local agreement Medina County for tax collection

The Natalia City Council approved a formal inter-local agreement with Medina County for tax collection services at the Regular meeting on April 17, 2017.
Law firm McCreary, Veselka, Bragg, & Allen, principally based out of Round Rock, was recently tapped to take over collection of delinquent taxes from the Law Office of Henry G. Steen. Matthew Tepper, a partner with MVB&A, brought the written inter-local agreement to Council members Chip Bluemel, Mike Fernandez, Tommy Ortiz, and Mayor Pro Tem Sam Smith for approval. Councilman Ruben Juarez was absent.
“For many, many years, y’all have used the services of the County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office to collect your delinquent taxes, which is not uncommon at all,” Tepper said. “When [MVB&A] started looking over the way that the paperwork was together between everybody, we noticed that while y’all had an understanding between the taxing entities of the county as to how they would collect the taxes and how all that would work, there was not a written inter-local agreement between any of the entities, including the City and the county.”
Tepper said the new inter-local agreement wouldn’t change any of the ways the City and county interacted over the taxes.
“It’s just making sure that the informal, verbalized agreement is now reduced to paper so that it’s written down, you have a legal contract, and everybody knows where they are,” Tepper said.
As presented, Page 2, Section C of the contract called for the City to set its annual tax rate no later than Sept. 15.
“I believe the law says the 29th or the 30th of September,” City Secretary Lisa Hernandez pointed out.
Tepper acknowledged that, explaining that tax offices frequently ask for that date to be pushed back in order to get bills out by October 1, “or as soon thereafter as is practical.”
Hernandez explained that because Natalia’s City Council meetings take place on the third Monday of each month, they often happen after the 15th of the month.
“I just don’t want to put the 15th and us not meet the 15th deadline,” Hernandez said.
Council voted unanimously to enter into the inter-local agreement with Medina County, with an amendment stating the City’s annual tax rate must be set by Sept. 30.
United Systems Technology, Inc. professional services agreement
“Right now, we work off USTI in municipal court and billing, but we work off Peachtree for our financials, and neither one of them integrate with our financials,” Hernandez said. “Every time we make a deposit or somebody makes a payment, we have to post those individually.”
Hernandez said she would have preferred to go with Incode, but at between $60,000 and $70,000 it was cost prohibitive. The agenda called for installing and training on USTI’s Asyst Financial Module not to exceed $12,115.
“This one is $12,000 at the most for the first annual cost, after that it’s about $1,400 for the license fees thereafter,” Hernandez said. “And since we already have the system, we just have to plug in all of our codes and start pushing numbers in.”
She added that in addition to saving time for City staff, their auditors had recommended getting a better system.
“We will be splitting [the cost] equally through utility reserves, general fund reserves, and municipal court technology reserves,” Hernandez said, adding that the City probably reach the $12,115 maximum, because staff was familiar with USTI’s systems and likely wouldn’t need in-person training, which would save $2,500.
Council voted unanimously to enter into the professional services agreement.
City Administrator’s Report
Hernandez informed Council that sales and use tax is required for all fireworks vendors.
“They have to be licensed, and [the sale of fireworks] has to be approved through the county,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez also announced that Dominic Negron, the city’s prosecutor, is entering into a contract for a reality TV show.
“So that reality TV show will be following him everywhere he goes, including work,” Hernandez explained. “[Municipal court Judge Richard Loza] ultimately has the decision about whether to allow it in his courtroom or not, but should any of you decide to walk in during court, y’all will have to have a waiver, whether y’all want to be on camera or not.”
Hernandez passed out waivers to all the Councilmen, who can choose whether or not to sign it.
Other action
Council unanimously approved the consent agenda, proclaiming April as Fair Housing Month, and submitting letters to the City’s governing representatives’ office opposing the elimination of the Community Development Block Grants program.
The next Regular Council meeting is scheduled for May 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer