Chief appraiser claims board micromanagement
Following the passage of a measure by the Kleberg County Appraisal District Board of Directors last month requiring all travel expenditures for the district to be approved by the board, the chief appraiser on Thursday expressed some concern that the board was micromanaging her office.
Chief Appraiser Ernestina Flores addressed the board during its regular meeting, following discussion on an amendment to a motion made last month requiring all travel requests for the district to be approved by the board on a case-by-case basis. The board also mandated that reports from each trip be presented to its members.
“What I was given authority to do in the past was to make specific decisions using the budget that was given to me,” Flores said. “ That seems to have changed, and it looks like we’re having to come more and more to the board for individual items.”
Flores requested that the board of directors give her some sort of directive letting her know what she should handle and what needs to come before the board, so that there is no confusion or disagreement in the future.
“I feel that if I don’t bring something to you, I feel like the board questions why I haven’t done it,” she said. “I need some direction from the board so I know that I’m complying with what you want me to do and I can go forward with managing this office.”
Board member Al Garcia agreed with Flores’ statement that the board was overreaching in some instances, adding that the chief appraiser should be free to manage her department.
“I think this board is going in the wrong direction of micromanaging and we should leave it up to the chief appraiser to manage the office like she’s done for a number of years,” he said. “We do hire and fire the chief appraiser, but aside from that, we should let her do her job as far as managing the office. She’s done a good job.”
Board member Juan Garza shared Garcia’s sentiment.
“ The chief appraiser will report to the board and that’s it – I feel that there’s been some micromanagement on (the) part of the board,” he said.
However, some board members disagreed with Flores and the two other members, claiming any restrictions are being done to protect the money provided by taxpayers and other governmental entities.
“I can’t see this micromanagement you all are talking about. I haven’t seen it, yet,” board member Juan Garza said. “All we’re doing is watching where this money’s flowing because the entities and the taxpayers are the ones footing the bill.”
Board member Daniel Morales said the board is only trying to ensure that any funds in the Appraisal District’s budget are spent wisely and only when absolutely necessary.
“Just because a budget is a set amount, doesn’t mean we have to spend that amount,” he said. “I feel that as a board member, it is our job to be the watchdogs of that budget, and I feel that’s what I’m doing.”
Board President Filiberto Garcia said he also felt that the board was not micromanaging, but being cautious with travel expenditures to ensure the district uses its funds wisely in an effort to safeguard the budget.
“It’s our job to make sure that we follow the budget as best we can,” he said. “I hope we’re not micromanaging, but I guess time will tell.”
Flores said while she understood some board members’ position that the board is serving as a “watchdog” for the budget, she felt the measures were hindering how she runs her own office. She pointed out that while city, county and Kingsville Independent School District employees travel outof state for training, her office has not done so, but rather seeks opportunities in state to keep costs down.
She said with constant changes to state property and tax laws, the need for travel to training seminars covering those topics is a necessity.
“I feel the only thing that’s being taken into consideration is money – what we give back to the districts – and not what this district needs, and that’s part of your job, as well,” Flores said.