Nixon swears in new council member, discusses vehicle and software purchases


New Nixon City Council member Pat Dingler was sworn in to office Monday, April 15, by Nixon Municipal Judge Deidra Voigt. Dingler was chosen by the council on April 8 to serve out the remaining term of former Council member Melissa Pompa, who was hired to be the city’s new finance officer.

Dingler was seated on the council dais immediately after taking the oath of offfice and had several intriguing items to vote on at Monday’s meeting, including authorizing the purchase of new vehicles by the Nixon Police Department.

Nixon will order three 2025 police package Ford Explorers from Caraway Ford at a cost of $63,231.76 each using Government Capital to finance the purchase after council members voted unanimously to approve a request by Interim City Manager Darryl Becker and Police Chief Miguel Cantu.

However, the vehicles will not be built by Ford for some time, leaving Becker and Cantu scrambling to find makeshift replacements for non-working vehicles.

Becker said the age of the city’s police fleet is seven years and they have had to decommission two of the four vehicles they’ve been using.

“We're in a peculiar situation where the availability of vehicles for the police packages are just not there,” Becker said. “So we went and talked to the sheriff and the county judge and they’re going to put it on the agenda to see if we can use some vehicles until we can get some ordered.”

Cantu called his two decommissioned vehicles “deadlines,” meaning they won’t hold up to the needs of the department.

“They’re having transmissions issues to fix and in one of them, the AC alone is $3,500 and the vehicle is probably worth $4,000 if we’re lucky,” Cantu said. “It doesn't make sense to put that much money out on a vehicle that the transmission could go out a week later.”

Cantu said the three Chevy Tahoes from the GCSO are “not in the best of conditions, but they’re better than what we have right now” and the county is willing to let them lease the vehicles, which are still equipped. Nixon PD would have to put their own radios and computers into the Tahoes, however.

Council members also voted unanimously to approve the purchase of FundView software to use for financial accounting, utilities, payroll and human resources at a cost of $28,500, which includes training for a year, plus a yearly licensing and maintenance fee of $22,000. Becker said the city solicited multiple bids and found FundView to be the best one for their needs.

“This is a software that that we could bring in to the city that would bring all of City Hall onto one server,” Becker said.

FundView was founded by former employees of Tyler Technologies, whose system OneView has been the pre-eminent governmental software used by municipalities and counties. The founders of FundView took their knowledge of OneView and created a program which improves upon that successful software, Cantu said.

The city has been using QuickBooks, but the limitations on the software make it to where only person can log into the system at a time, which makes it harder to use.

Also, QuickBooks is meant more for use by for-profit businesses that to track cash management and ultimately profit and loss, whereas a local government needs instead to track cash assigned to different purposes and how that cash was used according to “generally accepted accounting principles” or GAAP.

The city has had to pay an outside auditor an extra $15,000 per year to create spreadsheets that would accurately show the city’s financial position and what funds are available for each department, Becker said.

“We're trying to get a system that has GAAP in it where an outside auditor can view and receive the invoices and minimize the time that he spends doing our audit,” Becker said. “The city paid $50,000 for the fiscal year 2021 audit. We paid $65,000 that year to audit a $2.8 million budget. That’s not acceptable and it’s throwing tax dollars out the window.

“We’ve only done the 2020 and 2021 budget. We’ve got a letter to start the 2022 budget. In order to start that, I’m going to have to straighten the books on it. We can either send it to an outside CPA for $15,000 or fix it ourselves. The outside audit itself is $50,000 and we’re two behind, so that’s another $100,000. Make the choice. The choice is simple to me. We have got to get the system working that everyone can see the finances.”

The FundView software can update and show the city’s financial position in real time while handling not only financial accounting, but also work orders, utilities billing and even HR, Becker said.

Cantu said he would have to ask City Secretary Tanya Torres for a printout of his police department budget the past few years “and I would get a sheet where it was pretty much a month behind, so I didn’t have any real time idea of what my budget was like.”

Cantu said any of the city’s department heads would be able to use FundView to get real time information about their department spending and finances and make budgetary decisions using accurate data instead of guessing their position based upon information that is a month old.

“In my opinion, if we had had something like this for the past five years, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now,” Cantu said.

Pompa said “with the last audit that we had completed, there was a lot that had to be undone and redone and that’s the reason why the audit cost so much.”

“This product allows us to provide the auditors with a log-in to the portal. They’ll be able to go in and pull whatever information they need,” Pompa said. “I think it’s awesome. I wouldn’t even have to wait to get a bill in from chief or Jeremy. They can scan a bill into the system and I can see that it’s going to pop up and it can be paid.”

“Will this system allow you to miss a $340,000 bill that needs to be paid?” Council member Justin La Fleur asked, referring to a situation last year which led to the dismissal of former City Manager Harold Rice.

“It would be hard to miss a $340,000 bill with this system,” Pompa replied.

“This system is going to cost us,” Becker said. “Is it going to cost us more than what we're paying for with every other system we have? I have no idea, but we have 12-13 different things now we're trying to run the city off.

“I want a system where every person in the city is able to sit at home and pull up on the internet and see exactly what the city spent their money on this week.”

The council tabled until next month a $5,200 reimbursement to the Rancho-Nixon Historical Association for signage and a video about the impact of gunslinger John Wesley Hardin on the Nixon and Gonzales County area.

Donald Hoffman of the Rancho-Nixon Historical Association said his organization was granted an allocation of $15,000 in this year’s City of Nixon fiscal budget to spend on historical projects.

The current invoices are for $1,000 to mount the 4x8 quarter-plate engraved steel entrance monuments for the city (plus $700 for actual quarter plates and engraving) and another $3,500 to produce a film about Hardin’s life story, which will be shown and used as a fundraiser for the Aphne Pattillo Nixon Public Library.

Rancho-Nixon Historical Association has already paid for these projects out of their own funds, so they would be seeking reimbursement from the money already set aside in a budget by the council, Hoffman said.

The council also voted unanimously to approve moving the titling of all fire department vehicles from the city to the Nixon Fire Department.