In a 4-3 split vote, the Kingsville Independent School District Board of Trustees approved Monday evening the termination of services with the district’s long-time financial advisory firm.
The termination of the district’s service agreement with Estrada Hinojosa and Company Inc., along with hiring Tijerina Galvan Lawrence LLC (TGL) as its new financial advisors, was on the agenda during the board’s May 13 regular meeting. However, the board tabled action to allow Estrada Hinojosa and Company Inc. to send a representative to give a presentation at a future meeting.
Presenting on behalf of TGL was majority-owner Robert Tijerina, who had served as the KISD’s financial advisor and lead banker under Estrada Hinojosa and Company for 10 years, from 2008 to 2018, before leaving the firm in September 2018.
Tijerina partnered with Adrian Galvan, another former financial advisor with Estrada Hinojosa and Company, to acquire the firm they now represent.
Because of a non-compete clause in their employee contracts with their previous firm, Tijerina said he and Galvan had to wait six months before they could reach out to previous clients and offer their services.
Several area school districts, counties and municipalities Tijerina had previously served as lead banker have since hired TGL, he said, including Carrizo Spring CISD, San Diego ISD, United ISD, San Marcos CISD, Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco ISD, Dilley ISD, City of Fort Stockton, City of Carrizo Springs, Jim Wells County, Zapata County and Dimmit County.
Following the presentation, board vice-president Brandon Greenwood asked how much professional liability insurance TGL had. Tijerina said they currently do not have any yet, but they could obtain it if necessary.
Greenwood also asked about whether Alice ISD, another former client of Tijerina’s, hired TGL. Tijerina said the district’s school board had split 3-3, with one board member absent, so no action was taken.
Representing Estrada Hinojosa and Company was its managing director, Don Gonzales, who said he had worked with KISD during his past 18 years with the firm.
Gonzales said Estrada Hinojosa and Company has been in business for 27 years, has been ranked among the top 10 financial advisory firms in the United States and typically ranks within the top three in Texas, and is the largest Hispanic-owned financial advisory firm in the country.
Gonzales said their firm also currently has $2 million in professional liability insurance.
Prior to the vote, board trustee Steven Crites said KISD currently has $64 million in debt over the next 20 years, and its current agreement with Estrada Hinojosa and Company continued through 2020.
Crites then asked if there was no immediate requirement to change, “then why aren’t we looking at a little bit broader field?”
“I’m getting a choice between chocolate and vanilla,” he said. “There’s strawberry out there. There’s butter pecan. If we’re considering change, then great. Fine. I’m okay with that. But don’t I get a choice?”
KISD Superintendent Elida Bera then recommended the district stay with Estrada Hinojosa and Company through the remainder of its current contract.
“And that would also give the young company that’s starting out an opportunity to work out the kinks, like the insurance,” she said.
After Bera gave her recommendation, board secretary Corando Garza moved to terminate the district’s financial advisory services agreement with Estrada Hinojosa and Company. Trustee Nicolas Prado seconded the motion, saying his concern was that in his three years as a school board member, last week was the first time he had met Gonzales.
“I’m sure that both companies are capable of doing what we ask, but I’d like a little service,” Prado said. “Come shake my hand and say ‘hello.’ Don’t show up at a meeting in the bottom of the ninth inning. I want to know who you are.”
The motion passed 4-3, with Corando Garza, Cory Garza, Prado and board president Brian Coufal voting for termination of the agreement, and Greenwood, Crites and Lynn Yaklin voting against.
Corando Garza then moved to hire Tijerina Galvan Lawrence LLC as the KISD’s new financial advisor pending contract review from the district’s legal counsel, which was also seconded by Prado.
The board approved the hiring in a 5-2 split, with Greenwood and Crites voting against it.
Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (361) 221-0251.