Von Ormy Board Meeting Chaos: In the generally quiet town of Von Ormy, the Board of Commissioners meeting had turned into chaos and anger. One of the most important things to do at the meeting was to vote on the city’s budget and tax rate. But it was clear from the start that this would be something other than a regular meeting.
A large group of angry people had gathered because they didn’t like Valerie Naff, who was in charge of the city. Anxiety made it clear that feelings were on high alert. The fact that the police department of the city said the meeting place could only hold 35 people made things even worse. Since many locals couldn’t get in, a line formed outside as people waited to join the talk.
The situation worsened when one woman was handcuffed away because of her unruly behaviour during the meeting. The people in the meeting room were rude to Valerie Naff, who was sitting at the board table. This made the room awkward.
Many guests wore shirts that said “Keep Von Ormy tax-free” and “No salary for Valerie,” which worsened things. These catchphrases explicitly referenced a controversial budget proposal made by the city administrator. Since then, Mayor Casey Homer has come up with a new proposal, which has replaced the old one.
In a fight that has been going on for a while with Naff and the other two commissioners, Mayor Homer started the meeting by complaining about how things are going. He was worried about how quickly the meeting place changed, and he brought up problems with capacity from a meeting on September 28.
People could speak out in public before the meeting went into a closed-door executive session. After the meeting, Mayor Homer made a bad announcement: the public hearing on the budget and tax rate couldn’t happen because there hadn’t been at least 10 days’ notice.
The Board, comprised of Mayor Homer and two commissioners, chose to try again to pass the budget on October 20 at a more prominent place nearby.
Because Von Ormy is different from other cities in that it gets most of its money from things other than property taxes, like sales tax, franchise tax, fines, and fees, the city’s budget has long been a source of frustration for its residents.
Valerie Naff’s first budget plan, presented on August 28, included a salary for herself of $80,000 and a property tax rate of 66.95 cents per $100 of property value. This made a lot of people upset. This move would bring in about $470,000. Naff said that the $80,000 was part of a more extensive discussion about limits on city employees, which was later dropped. This was made clear by Naff.
The plan also raised questions about the city’s ability to pay the up-front costs of a $3 million sewer grant from Bexar County. At first, the commissioners hesitated to pay these bills without using property taxes.
As the talk continued, it became clear that Mayor Homer didn’t like Valerie Naff’s budget and tax plan. He used his power as the “state-designated budget officer” for the city to force Naff to submit his own goal instead. Naff’s plan didn’t include money for the city administrator position and kept the city’s property tax rate at 0%.
Even though it was on the agenda, the Board chose not to talk about Naff’s firing or the possibility of her office being dissolved because of a public petition. Homer couldn’t make moves or vote because a recent board decision said he could only do either once there was a tie. Ultimately, the contracts for Naff and Police Chief Lionel Perez Jr. were approved and signed without any conversation.
At the end of the meeting, everyone agreed that the Board’s top goal should be to approve a budget. This means that the citizens and the officials need to learn about the city’s financial future.