No-shows at Coffee City council meeting keep mayor from appointing members

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Published: May. 26, 2022 at 7:17 PM CDT|Updated: May. 27, 2022 at 4:47 PM CDT
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COFFEE CITY, Texas (KLTV) - The city council in Coffee City does not have enough members to fill a quorum in order to replace recently resigned members.

For the third time in a month, a city council member has resigned from their position in Coffee City.

Mayor Frank Serrato called a meeting Thursday to fill the latest seat. But only one alderman attended the meeting, so a quorum was not met in order to conduct city business.

According to agendas and minutes posted on the city website, council members Kevin Swanson and Riley Standifer turned in resignations prior to the May 6 meeting. Somewhere since that time, Ray Ver Hey has also resigned, as agendas show nobody representing Place 5.

Dating back to at least February, minutes and videos document at least three heated conversations between council members and Mayor Frank Serrato.

Minutes from a Feb. 14 meeting document Swanson confronting Serrato on hiring an assistant for the city secretary without council approval:

Councilman Swanson asked if this should be placed in Executive Session under Personnel Issues? Mayor Serrato stated no that she was being paid as contract labor right now, Councilman Swanson stated it doesn’t matter she was working here, wasn’t she? He also added that she was here last week when he came by to sign some paperwork for the City Secretary, so wouldn’t that be considered the city paying her? Mayor Serrato stated that she was just being paid contract labor right now, Councilman Swanson stated that the city was still paying her right? Councilman Swanson asked the Mayor who authorized her to work here? The Mayor stated that he did, just like he authorizes all contract workers to work here at the City. Councilman Swanson pointed out that the Council was supposed to be the ones to be approved before anyone was to go to work for the city. Mayor stated no, not on contract labor, Councilman Swanson asked was he sure about that? Councilman Swanson gave examples of the lawn guy cutting the lawn being approved as well as the cleaning lady being approved. Councilman Swanson stated that he didn’t understand how she was approved to work here at the City without the Councils approval like all other contract labor that the city has hired going before the Council first.

On Thursday, Serrato said he would not address this because he said he did not have time.

In a March 14 meeting, Ver Hey confronted Serrato over personal use of a wifi hotspot and laptop. It was a confrontation which led to Serrato asking police officers to escort Ver Hey out of the meeting.

City council video shows confrontation over wifi hotspot.

The bill on the hotspot was for $133.04. The city secretary explained $110 of that was because Serrato had gone over his allotted data usage. Ver Hey asked Serrato why he could not use his own computer at home like Vey Hey does.

“I have a job just like you do,” Serrato said. “I don’t come to the office Monday through Friday 9-5 or 8-5, so that’s where the laptop comes in. I use it to check emails.”

Ver Hey also asked how Serrato could have the city pay for the data without council approval.

“If you talk one more time, I’m going to have you removed,” Serrato said. “Stop! I’m telling you not to talk.”

“I said we can move on,” Ver Hey said.

“Please remove him,” Serrato said as two officers approached the table.

Ver Hey sat for another three minutes as Serrato asked him over and over “please leave.”

“You cannot talk,” Serrato said. “I have the floor.”

Ver Hey then voluntarily left as Standifer also said he would leave because he did not think it was right.

“And I don’t have to be escorted out,” Standifer said.

On Thursday, Serrato said he did not need the cities approval for the laptop and hotspot. “If I wanted to go buy a car from the city, I need their approval.”

In an April 11 meeting, with Serrato absent, the council voted to rescind Serrato’s police commission being held by Coffee City Police Department. In the meeting, Standifer said the council previously voted not to allow Serrato to be a reserve officer with the city. The council later found out that Serrato was on the reserve roster.

In the same meeting, the council voted that the city laptop and WiFi hotspot be returned to the city.

In a May 2 meeting, Ver Hey asked that Serrato be added to the agenda to be discussed in closed session. Serrato refused.

On Thursday, Serrato said he returned the items. When asked if the other members can look at it, Seratto said, “Anybody could look at it. It’s all there. I got nothing to hide. It’s all there.”

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