Harlingen leaders call for investment review

HARLINGEN — Some Harlingen city commissioners are pushing to launch a review of the city’s investment policy and its investments.

During a special meeting Thursday, commissioners Richard Uribe and Frank Puente are planning to call on commissioners to hire Safe Track, a McAllen investigative firm, to conduct a “compliance review” of the policy giving the finance director oversight over the city’s investments.

Meanwhile, Uribe and Puente also want the firm to review the city’s decision to move about $15 million into certificates of deposit getting low returns on investment.

“We want to make sure all these transactions and investment decisions are best for the city and all appropriate measures were followed,” Puente said Tuesday. “This gives us a chance to see if there are any improvements we can make in our financial decisions.”

Mayor Chris Boswell declined comment on the proposal.

Last week, Uribe questioned Finance Director Robert Rodriguez’s decision to move $3 million into certificates of deposit already holding $2 million while getting less than one quarter of 1 percent return on investment.

Meanwhile, the Harlingen WaterWorks System’s moved about $9 million into CDs, he said.

“With that kind of money, should we have invested in CDs in a time of need and in a time of COVID?” Puente asked Tuesday. “I think the money could have been spent in other areas. I feel some of those funds should have been invested in city employees — either salary increases or hiring more personnel, if needed, in different departments.”

During Thursday’s special meeting, Uribe and Puente are planning to request commissioners hire Safe Track, also known as Safe Global Services, a McAllen private investigations firm, to provide “professional-consulting services.”

According to the meeting’s agenda, Uribe and Puente are requesting Safe Track “perform a compliance review of the city of Harlingen’s public funds investment policy and all investments of public funds by the city of Harlingen, including certificates of deposit.”

During a Feb. 2 meeting, Uribe questioned whether the city had changed a policy giving Dallas-based Hilltop Securities, the city’s financial advisor, oversight over investments.

In response, Boswell said commissioners had passed a resolution giving the finance director the authority to manage the city’s investment program.

“The management responsibility for the investment program is hereby delegated to the director of finance, who shall establish procedures for the operation of the investment programs consistent with this investment policy,” the resolution states.

Puente said he wants to know when commissioners passed the resolution.

Meanwhile, Uribe called for information behind the decision to move the money into CDs while requesting Anne Burger Entrekin, who serves as Hilltop Securities’ representative, meet with commissioners to respond to questions.