|Don Collins appointed mayor in Como|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
January 2, 2004 -- In an emergency session Tuesday evening, the Como City Council named Don Collins as mayor of the community. Collins, a former Como mayor, will serve as mayor until the city election in May.
He replaces Gene D. Brown Jr., who resigned as mayor last week following a number of allegations of irregularities presented to the city council.
The new mayor said early Wednesday he had implemented a severe austerity program in the community.
"We don't have any money, that's the worst thing, so you can't do very much when you don't have any money," Collins said. "We are making all the cuts we can to keep operating and try to build up a little money to re-do our streets here."
Collins said the current financial condition of Como is bad enough that the city may seek additional money from its residents.
"I think we can do it," he said. "We eventually may have to put a small amount of surcharge on everybody's bill for three or four months to give us a little operating money, but our main goal is to get our town back in shape."
One of the first steps taken by the new mayor was to shut down the police department to cut back on the city's expenses. Collins said the action may be misunderstood by some Como residents.
"I think some people feel that we are against the police department, but that's far from true," he said. "You just can't have things you cannot afford, and right now we just can't afford it."
The new mayor said he hoped to reinstate the city's law enforcement agency as soon as finances permit.
Another primary area of concern has to do with the status of a state grant that was to fund expansion and improvement of the city's water distribution system, and the need to finalize the grant.
One of the main concerns, brought forth in a meeting last week, was the disappearance of a quantity of pipe acquired through the grant, and Collins said the state of Texas is beginning an investigation into the pipe's disappearance.
"Today, I plan to talk to the grant writer and see what the status is on that," he said. "I'm told the grant writer has turned this over to the state for an investigation."