Commissioners call for closer review moving forward

Danny Garcia, Victoria County commissioner for Precinct 1, discusses an invoice submitted to the court for emergency repair work completed on the airport’s maintenance building after a storm this past spring.

Victoria County commissioners on Monday are expected to appoint a forensic task force to examine spending after Hurricane Harvey.

The proposal of a forensic task force comes after people have raised questions and criticized the county’s spending process after Hurricane Harvey, mainly at the Victoria Regional Airport.

At a joint meeting between Victoria County commissioners and airport commissioners, airport commissioner Dennis Patillo called for the creation of a forensic task force to examine the steps taken during the rebuilding process at the airport after Harvey.

County Commissioner Gary Burns has been the sole county commissioner echoing concerns. Burns wrote a memo requesting the task force be discussed at Monday’s meeting.

In his memo, Burns said he has received “a lot of input from the community.” He said it has been suggested that the committee be composed of two members of the commissioners court selected by the county judge, two members of the airport commission selected by the airport commission chair and four members of the community selected by both the county judge and the chairman. He also said he believes the airport manager and facilities manager should be included.

“This may recognize some deficits, but the big picture is the opportunity to improve and do a better job for our taxpayers,” Burns wrote in the memo.

Airport commission chairman Trey Ruschhaupt said he hopes the task force is made up of “neutral” people.

“I think because of questions that have been asked and comments that have been made to me in the public sector, I think that a group of people that are basically neutral should come in and take a look,” he said. “Hopefully then we can put everything to bed so that we move forward.”

Also Monday, Victoria County commissioners will hear a report on the Victoria County 2018 audit and receive the 2018 comprehensive annual financial report.

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, mtheophil@vicad.com or on Twitter.

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