City statement on Hirschfeld lawsuit
The City of San Angelo and the City of San Angelo Development Corp., which administers the half-cent sales tax for economic development, have brought suit against Martifer-Hirschfeld Energy Systems to recover more than $2.6 million in funds entrusted to us by our taxpayers. Those funds were advanced to the company as part of two economic development agreements executed between Martifer-Hirschfeld, the COSADC and the City in 2009 and 2010. In those contracts, Martifer-Hirschfeld committed itself to investing $40 million into its wind energy plant in San Angelo, creating 225 full-time jobs for local and area residents, and operating the plant continuously for 10 years. By its own admission in court filings, the company failed to meet its contractual obligations.
Before filing suit, the City and the COSADC worked patiently and tirelessly to resolve the matter. However, Martifer-Hirschfeld never offered to repay more than a slim fraction of the millions it received. The City and the COSADC could not agree to a minimal repayment. Doing so – and allowing Martifer-Hirschfeld to walk away with millions in taxpayer dollars – would constitute a serious breach of the public trust. Further, it would set a dangerous precedent for other economic development agreements with the City and COSADC to be non-binding when there is a failure to meet contractual obligations.
Because Martifer-Hirschfeld clearly received the public funds and has confessed in court documents that it failed to live up to its contractual obligations with the City, we have filed a motion for summary judgment. That motion will be heard in the 119th State District Court on March 2. We are disappointed with Hirschfeld Industries’ recent public statement, which disingenuously blamed the City and the COSADC for decisions to expand operations in Abilene rather than in San Angelo. At the heart of this case is Martifer-Hirschfeld's failure to invest in its local plant and to create jobs in San Angelo; now Hirschfeld is doing just that in another West Texas city. We have, in good faith, repeatedly invited the company to bring us a specific proposal to evaluate so we could jointly resolve this matter. Martifer-Hirschfeld has never done so. Negotiating with the private equity hedge fund that today controls Hirschfeld is more challenging than partnering with local ownership with whom the City has had close personal and working relationships for decades. Despite that, we remain committed to forging a resolution that could well serve all involved, our community and its citizens included.
Office of the City Attorney
The mission of the Office of the City Attorney is to represent the City by providing professional, effective and ethical legal assistance to the City Council, City Manager and all other City departments and boards. The Office of the City Attorney cannot provide legal advice or representation to citizens.
The City of San Angelo faces a vast number of varied legal matters. These include: contracts, real estate transactions, economic development, claims against the City for damages, litigation, employment law, civil service regulations, lake lot sales and leases, water and sewer services, issues related to providing a cemetery, a museum, an airport, parks, recreational facilities, police protection, and water and sewer services; collections, eminent domain, bankruptcy, prosecution of cases in Municipal Court, code enforcement, open meetings and open records, and more. It is the role of the Office of the City Attorney to advise the City in these legal matters, represent the City in court, conduct research, attend City Council and board meetings as required, and draft or review documents relating to all of the above.
Does the Office of the City Attorney handle landlord/tenant disputes, divorces or any other personal legal problem I may have?
No. The Office of the City Attorney represents the City of San Angelo as a municipal entity and cannot represent individual citizens in private legal matters.
If an individual desires legal representation in a private matter, he or she must retain an attorney who has a private practice. The State Bar of Texas has a toll free number for lawyer referral 1-800-252-9690 or you can visit its website at www.texasbar.com.
If the individual makes below a designated income level and qualifies for legal assistance, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, 325-653-6982, may provide legal aid. It charges fees based upon a qualifying client's income.
What can the City do when a neighbor’s tree limbs extend over the property onto my property?
Neighborhood disputes are best handled by approaching the neighbor and attempting to arrive at a solution acceptable to both parties. However, this is a private legal matter for which the City Attorney's office can offer no legal advice.
What can be done if my neighbor engages in activities that make loud noises or if his dog barks continually?
If possible, attempt to resolve the dispute with your neighbor by talking with him about the problem. If this approach is unsuccessful or impractical, you can contact the Municipal Court prosecutor's office at 325-657-4407. The prosecutor will review the complaint and, if appropriate, send a letter to the neighbor, stating the complaint and advising they may be in violation of a City ordinance.
Should that prove unsuccessful, you may wish to record a particular date, time and frequency of the noise, and present this complaint to the prosecutor if you are willing to testify and press charges against the responsible party. It is up to the prosecutor's discretion whether to file a formal complaint against any individual, and he may ask you to work with him to gather additional evidence necessary to successfully prosecute the case.
Where can I find out what real property the city has to sell?