The Brownfield City Council welcomed a new face Thursday and bid farewell to a familiar one.
Newly appointed District 1 councilman Ricky Rocha was sworn in to begin the regular session.
He was appointed by the council at the last meeting to replace outgoing councilman Shorty Martinez.
Martinez had to resign his seat on the City’s governing body in order to take his seat in the Precinct 3 chair on the Terry County Commissioners Court after winning election in November.
Mayor Tom Hesse thanked Martinez for his service to the City and presented him with a plaque of appreciation.
Rocha joined the council for the remainder of the meeting.
In other business, the Council approved City Secretary Kelly Burris as the Secretary for the Local Housing Authority Board to serve as Secretary. The action was requested by the chairman of that board, Bruce Woods.
The Council next heard from Fire Chief Dennis Rowe regarding the Texas Emergency Retirement System, a pension plan for volunteer firefighters.
Rowe said the benefits don’t justify the expense and that few firefighters even qualify for the plan, which requires a minimum number of call responses and training hours each year.
The City pays about $4,000 per year for TERS, which pays benefits of roughly $200 per year to qualifying firefighters.
Firefighter Brit Tankersley said that money could be better spent on equipment and training for the volunteers.
The Council voted unanimously to abandon the seldom used program.
The meeting concluded with a hour-long Skype call with an Austin attorney who reviewed the rules and regulations governing the use of Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds.
Brian Sullivan, counsel for the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association went over the nine approved uses for HOT funds and gave examples of how Brownield does or does not qualify in each category.
Some Brownfield officials and audience members posed questions about specific events hosted locally.
The conference was requested by City administrators after a new committee was formed several weeks ago to revamp the ordinance pertaining to the local dispersal of HOT funds.
The full council was present for the meeting, to include: Ricky Rocha, Chuck Nave, Sherrill Lindsey, Leon Pope, Mayor Tom Hesse, Mary Valdonado, Ray McFarland, and Mike Swaringen.