Coffee City at risk of closing down city operations

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Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 7:26 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2022 at 7:27 PM CDT
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COFFEE CITY, Texas (KLTV) - Coffee City is at risk of closing down its operations on July 1.

Last month, three council members and the city secretary all resigned from their position in Coffee City. In an effort to replace the resigned members, the city did not meet a quorum to fill the positions at meetings since then.

After six years with Coffee City, former city councilman Riley Standifer shared with KLTV 7 why he resigned.

“Discontent,” Standifer said about the city’s current operations.

“He said he could hire contract labor without our approval, and we disagreed with that, and that was just one of many,” Standifer added about Mayor Frank Serrato.

During a March 14 meeting, councilman Ray Ver Hey confronted Serrato over his personal use of a Wi-Fi hotspot and laptop. It was a confrontation that led to Serrato asking police officers to escort Ver Hey out of the meeting.

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 as Vey Hey does.

“I have a job just like you do,” Serrato said. “I don’t come to the office Monday through Friday 9 to 5 or 8 to 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 Monday, Standifer said he knew he was leaving the council after this interaction with Serrato.

“It took one second. It’s all it took,” Standifer said. “I’d been dealing with it for a year and a half, and when him and Ray were in their heated discussion, it’s all I needed. I’d had enough.”

Now, Serrato told KLTV the city is at risk of shutting down because it cannot meet quorum to fill its vacant seats.

“I can’t conduct business and write checks after June 30th because then that would be illegal because I don’t have a budget,” Serrato said.

Serrato said whether the fire department stays open is also up in the air.

“We’re still trying to see if there’s a way around the fire department where they can sustain themselves through their own donations,” Serrato said.

The city would shut down on July 1st.

“Hope that the citizens can at least call out the council, former council members that resigned, at least to come in and for one time at least to appoint someone in their place for the citizens and their safety,” Serrato said.

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