Southwest Texas Municipal Gas Co. fades into the sunset
By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN
MARFA, ALPINE – The Southwest Texas Municipal Gas Corporation (SWTMG) is no more as of five pm Tuesday. SWTMG is dissolved as part of a dissolution agreement between the cities of Marfa and Alpine who co-owned the natural gas utility corporation.
The SWTMG board met for their final meeting before the dissolution Monday night in Alpine.
While the gas corporation no longer exists, its board will remain intact and meet monthly for updates during a period of transition.
As part of the dissolution, the cities of Marfa and Alpine will offer natural gas as a utility, much like water, sewage, and garbage.
As for former SWTMG employees, nine will go to work for the city of Alpine and one will go to Marfa, three additional SWTMG employees were not hired by either city.
The gas board voted to pay the employees going to one of the cities two additional weeks of pay, while the other three SWTMG employees will be given an extra month of pay as a severance package. The decision to hire or no hire those SWTMG employees was made by the respective cities, with the gas board voting to agree on the arrangement according to Marfa City Administrator Jim Mustard.
During the gas board meeting, board members listened to a report from auditor Patty Roach of Lannom & Roach CPA. Roach reported to board members that they are essentially done with fieldwork auditing and that inventory is still being looked into. Board member Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald of Alpine asked Roach if there were any audit points to be aware of. Roach told members,
“You always have adjustment points, we will have those,” adding that to her belief, there are no management letter comments or weakness in internal control.
Board members also listened to a report from interim General Manager Randy Guzman, who made officials aware of existing gas related projects and duties that will now be left to the two cities. Those projects included leak tests, hooking up new services and retiring old services.
As the meeting round down, board members took turns to reflect on the past.
“I just want to say it’s been a pleasure serving and I really want to say it’s nowhere near a contentious group as we read in the newspapers,” Fitzgerald said. Looking at Alpine Mayor and gas board member Jerry Johnson, Fitzgerald said, “I respect this man and he is not the devil incarnate.”
Board member Jane Wiemers spoke up,
“It’s been the best experience and the worst experience of my life. The best is I made new friends and the worst is I get quoted in the paper for things I don’t say.” Wiemers added that in spite of what has been said about the gas board, all the members have done the best that they could do and accomplished plenty.
Marfa city council member and gas board member Corina Brijalba thanked the SWTMG employees for their work.
“I have enjoyed serving and I wish everyone the best of luck,” Brijalba said.
Rounding the table to Marfa Mayor and gas board member Dan Dunlap, Dunlap said, “This is a transition. There is still a lot of work ahead of us. It’s an opportunity for both cities,” Dunlap said of Marfa and Alpine parting ways.
“It’s going to be great for the cities. We’ve got good people and it’ll work out fine,” Dunlap added.