It is likely that Wharton’s Beautification City Commission will change how it recruits members to multi-year posts for various reasons that have been pointed out to various stakeholders of the community and city staff.

It includes those in the beautification commission, Wharton City Council, and it appears the Wharton Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture (WCC&A) and the Wharton Downtown Business Association (WDBA).

The primary reason is meeting quorums, or lack thereof on the part of the beautification commission.

In this regard, a quorum is a minimum amount of appointed commission members who are in attendance to have a regular meeting called. The commission meets the second Wednesday of the month. If there is not a quorum, a meeting is cancelled and the commission business moves on to the following month.

A city ordinance was created to explain how the beautification commission is supposed to operate.

Various city ordinances were created for every commission, board, committee, even the Wharton City Council, which is the only body for the City of Wharton that is elected through its voters.

Secretary Paula Favors shared some information on why the beautification commission, which was created in 1998, finds itself in this unique situation.

“It was created to be comprised of nine members appointed by the City Council that are to be residents of the city or have businesses in the city. If possible, eight of the members should be representative of the areas of business and industry, community organizations and education,” Favors said. “Any applicant who has shown interest in serving and meets the ordinance requirements has never been rejected. All that has to be done is submit a letter of interest to me, stating they are interested in serving.”  

When Favors receives a letter of interest, she places it on the next city council agenda.

Favors said in May 2018, there were concerns from lack of commission quorums and she had reached out to the Journal-Spectator about producing an article on how residents can apply for any board, commission, or committee vacancies. An article was never produced.

At the beginning of 2019, the Wharton City Council approved to amend an ordinance to reduce the number of beautification commission members from nine to seven.

“It was made in hopes of reaching a quorum at the monthly meetings,” Favors said.

However, since that change, the commission has not met for lack of quorum four times – June, July, September, October and November. The last time this commission met was in August. Presently, there are three beautification commission vacancies. One term expires June 30, 2021, and the two others June 30. 

According to the City of Wharton, committee members are Sandra Holmes and Gloria Smith (both terms expire June 30, 2020), and Devory A. Francis and Steven Roberts (both terms expire June 30, 2021).

Outside interest

Favors said during a regularly scheduled quarterly WDBA meeting, which was held Nov. 20, Debra Medina brought to the attention of the City of Wharton’s Community Development Director Gwyn Teves, that the WDBA would like to be involved with the Beautification Commission and have a seat on the board.

“After the request was made, city staff began discussions about a possible restructure of the commission to include the (WDBA’s) request as well as to include the (WCC&A),” Favors said.

Elected officials with the city council were initially presented restructuring information of the beautification commission at its Nov. 25 meeting.

There was discussion about reducing the number of members on the commission and accepting recommendations for appointments from the WDBA and the chamber. No action was taken at the time.

At its December meeting, the council again discussed it, the item led by City Manager Andres Garza. No action was taken again.

Before the last council meeting, Favors said the most recent residents who have shown interest are not rejected at this time and will be represented to the City Council once the restructuring is complete. 

At the current time the changes are being discussed so there is not a firm date for commission completion.

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