Escobares unable to pay staff following council resignations

The abrupt resignation of the mayor and the mayor pro-tem has disrupted regular city business to the point that city staff didn’t receive their pay this week.

The city issued a news release Friday stating the resignation of Mayor Ruperto B. Escobar on Monday and Mayor Pro-Tem Alfredo Escobar on Friday placed the city in a holding pattern when it came to city matters, including the pay of city employees which must be signed off by the individuals listed as authorized signatories to sign or access the city’s bank account.

Both Ruperto and Alfredo Escobar were approved signatories on city bank accounts, Councilmember Luis Garcia Sr. said in the statement, and the bank is requiring the city to approve new signatures for the payroll account in order for employees to be paid.

The city stated administrative staff and the council were working “around the clock to identify any issues that must be resolved, and especially the change of bank signatories for city accounts.”

“We want to apologize to the citizens of Escobares for this unexpected turn of events that has temporary (sic) delayed business operations,” Garcia said, “but we are working diligently to resolve any issues, and I remain confident that service will continue as needed.”

He said he hoped the issue could be resolved by Monday when the city is schedule to hold another city council meeting.

Garcia added that he was caught off guard by the resignations of both men and said it was prompted by changes in the city.

“Ruperto B. Baldemar Escobar and Alfredo Escobar vacated their posts after several changes were requested and made by remaining council members regarding financial operations and management,” Garcia said.

The mayor resigned toward the end of a city council meeting on Monday, just a few minutes after the majority of the council voted to terminate City Secretary Rosario Ramirez on a resolution of “no confidence” and voted to terminate their public works foreman.

The council then appointed Fire Department Chief Lauro Ramirez as the public works foreman and his wife, Lynette Ramirez, as the city secretary for a 90-day probationary period.

Ruperto Escobar declined to go into details behind his resignation but when asked if it had anything to do with a request by the other council members for financial information, he said that was part of it.

“I guess you could say a little bit of that,” he said Friday, explaining that the requested information was delayed because their city attorney referred it to the Texas Attorney General’s office for an opinion on whether the information could be withheld from the public.

“But really, I don’t know why our municipal lawyer, counselor, didn’t respond to them in time,” Escobar said. “However, there are no funds missing. Once they get to the bottom of all this, once they see all the cleared checks and where they went to, they will be satisfied.”

He said he would be issuing a statement regarding his resignation on Monday but said he would not be laying blame on anybody.

“I’m not interested in creating chaos here, certainly no animosity at all,” Escobar said. “I just couldn’t agree with the new administration.”