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No Vote Made on West Texas Water Partnership

More heated discussion on Tuesday at city council. There was no vote taken on whether to continue with the West Texas Water Partnership.
While no vote was made on continuing with the West Texas Water Partnership on Tuesday, the mayor said the council consensus is to stay on board with Abilene and Midland in finding alternate water sources for our cities.

"And in order for us to get water, it's going to cost us a lot of money and we really need to be more focused on getting the water," said Council Member Robert Fleming said. "We have to spend the studies, we have to do these tests and we have to get the water."

Tuesday's discussion comes after Council Member Charlotte Farmer discovered the city had overspent what was approved to be put toward the partnership.

"No wonder nobody trusts the government," she said. "All these stalls and months that were going by and nothing was being done. The only one doing anything was me."

Farmer said she was denied access to the documents pertaining to the partnership by city staff for months before seeing them in an audit meeting in August, finding that the city attorney never signed the agreement.

"This would've continued on indefinitely if Ms. Farmer did not dig into this and find out about it," Council Member H.R. Wardlaw said.

The city manager disagrees and says that it would have been found and that this was an oversight.

"There is no reason for me to want to cover up anything whatsoever," City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said. "There is nothing to hide whatsoever."

The city now has safeguards in place so that overspending does not continue.

"We will not sign another contract without the city attorney going over it and putting her signature on it," City Mayor Dwain Morrison said.

The city will pay over $1 million within the next two years if they vote to stay in the partnership. Council member Johnny Silvas requested quarterly updates on the progress of the research if the resolution passes.

"But moving forward I agree, we need transparency," Silvas said. "We need to hear from you guys as to what steps, where we're at."

The mayor and city manager will meet with San Angelo's west Texas water partners in Midland on Wednesday. The council will vote during their next meeting.
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