A hot hello for Barroso?
New health chief ‘moving on’ in animal-control spat with cities
By Ian White
KATHY Barroso’s appointment as interim boss of the county’s health district comes while the district is in a tense standoff with three city governments for which she has been blamed by at least one senior city official.
Dickinson city administrator Julie Robinson says it was a policy change by Barroso, above right, who has replaced the soon-to-retire Mark Guidry as the district’s chief executive, that caused the three cities to rip up their animal-control-service contracts with the county.
Along with Dickinson, the cities of Santa Fe and Clear Lake Shores are upset that, as administrative head of the district’s animal-control service, last year she advised the district’s budget-setting board to approve a figure higher than the amount they feel had been agreed for the service before the board met.
Robinson told The Post: “Her recommendation of a budget different from the one approved by the cities that would be funding it undermined the consortium’s trust in the budget-setting process.”
After the board voted for the more expensive budget, Dickinson and Santa Fe refused to pay more than they had allocated for this fiscal year and, in March, all three cities told the district that they will not renew their contracts for its animal-control service after September 30.
Any chance that they would relent looks less likely with Barroso’s administrative elevation, even though replacing the district service could prove a costly exercise for them.
But, having overseen the service for quite some time, Barroso is unlikely to be fazed by the disagreement as she received good news last week for proposals she was already working on for new contracts for its remaining clients.
The county commissioners’ court voted on May 26 to ensure that neither the district nor its remaining clients will lose out financially when their new contracts begin on October 1.
Unless the rebels return, the clients will consist of the county and a consortium of city entities consisting of Bayou Vista, Hitchcock, Kemah, La Marque, Texas City and Tiki Island.
Barroso told The Post she hopes that the dispute with the three cities can be resolved but that her main concern as far as the district’s animal-services division is concerned is that it deserves credit for improvements and the services that its staff provides.
She said: “A lot of good things are happening at the county’s animal shelter in Texas City. Adoption rates are up and euthanasia rates are down – a lot of that gets lost in arguments about the budget and I hope the public can see just how much good is being done by all our animal-control staff.”
On the possibility of a rapprochement with the three dissenting cities, she said: “They made their decisions and submitted their termination. While I regret that decision, we have no option but to move forward. None has given me or the board any indication of a desire to rejoin the consortium.”
Robinson, meanwhile, is staying mum on her city’s plans to replace the district service and did not comment on that aspect of the issue in speaking to The Post for this article.