New Sensation: Noel Bernal, Falfurrias (TX), City Administrator

Posted on January 29, 2014


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We’re back with the new “New Sensation” feature. We’ve updated the questions based on your feedback. You’ll now learn about the best YouTube videos on the web, read about gift ideas for the holiday season, and learn about the career accomplishments of our new members.  As a reminder, we developed this feature to introduce you to new ELGL members and as a way on connecting ELGL members with similar interests.

Vitals 

Noel Bernal

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Falfurrias (TX) City Adminstrator

Experience: City Administrator, City of La Villa and Intern – Assistant to Pharr EDC Manager, City of Pharr Economic Development Corporation

Education: The University of Texas-Pan American, Certfied Public Manager (CPM), The University of Texas-Pan American, Master’s, Public Administration, and  The University of Texas-Pan American, Bachelor’s, Sociology, Political Science

Connect: LinkedIn

Background Check

Noel Bernal’s local government management career began in May 2011 when he became the City Administrator of La Villa, Texas. During his tenure at La Villa, he oversaw the development and successful completion of an Interlocal Agreement with Hidalgo County for a 1900 acre Tax Increment Re-Investment Zone (TIRZ). He also provided management guidance in the successful execution of a Special Election for ½ cent 4B sales tax for the establishment of an Economic Development office.

Ridley-Pic-2The City of Falfurrias, Texas recently transitioned to the Council-Manager form of government with Bernal becoming the first City Administrator of Falfurrias in December 2012. He initiated a water, wastewater, and natural gas cost of service/rate study and utilized a governance study of over 2,200 municipally-owned utilities throughout the nation to help the City Council successfully transition the management and control of an independent utility governing board into a Utilities Department. This achieved integration and coordination of planning and policy issues and administrative efficiency.

In order to accomplish the consolidation, he successfully refinanced $5.5 million utilities revenues bonds to general obligation refunding bonds at a lower interest rate resulting in $1.7 million cash flow savings, the shortening of the payback period from 33 years to 15, and the ability to consolidate the autonomous board.

downloadBernal earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at the University of Texas Pan American (UTPA) in 2013. In 2011, he was recognized by the Texas City Management Association (TCMA) as a Clarence E. Ridley Scholar.

He is currently participating in the Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP), Class of 2015, sponsored by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). He is a 2014 candidate for the Certified Public Manager (C.P.M.) credential through the Texas State University William P. Hobby Center for Public Service in cooperation with UTPA. Bernal has also completed the curriculum of the Utility Management Institute (UMI) through the University of the Incarnate Word.

Lightning Round

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Tell us about three of your biggest accomplishments.

  • Implementing a 3-year plan to reduce existing general fund deficit of over $500,000 in La Villa. Deficit was eliminated in 2 ½ years shortly after I left.
  • Leading City’s First-Ever bond issuance of $1.1 million for remedial measures to wastewater treatment plant exceeding capacity at La Villa.
  • Having the privilege of representing the local government profession as the first City Administrator of Falfurrias at age 27.

(Complete this sentence) I feel old when I…….. Accept an offer to play baseball with my brothers and friends in a local league. My soreness lasts for days!

Tell us about two mistakes that you’ve made that we can learn from.

imagesIn my first City Management position, I was faced with a situation involving a City Council decision. I felt that my values were compromised. In retrospect, however, the situation was not the ethical dilemma I thought it was. I was caught in the middle of an engineering contract and their action was contrary to how I would do business. I could have done things differently by being patient or by asking fellow colleagues for an opinion on the matter. I did not have a contract and ended up resigning before completing two years of service. Since I failed to meet the minimum length of service requirement for the Texas City Management Association (TCMA) and ICMA code of ethics, I have been hard on myself over that decision.

I recall a media interview where my statements could have been justified better by providing facts. If possible, always prepare well for a media interview.

Give us three of your favorite YouTube videos.   

I am not one to spend much time on YouTube so I had a difficult time finding videos I enjoyed.

Brazil ghost elevator prank

Mercy Me –  All of creation

Johnny Cash – When the man comes around

 

 

As part of being an ELGL member, we give you a chance to redo or change any part of your life. How would you use it?

(Note: My life is perfect, I am perfect, I would never change anything is not an acceptable response.)

I would have accepted an invitation to attend a Christian retreat much earlier in life. Attending one led to the best decision of my life.

Our annual conference will be held in October 2014. Name three topics or speakers that should be included on the conference agenda.

  • Strategies for re-engaging with a community after controversial issues.
  • This is something that I’ve thought about….To what extent should managers work at (if anything) clarifying rumors and misinformation others make to hinder one’s success.
  • Consider including an excellent motivational speaker!

(Complete these phrases) Best thing about the….

80’s was…… Michael Jackson’s moon walk!tumblr_m0nwjbvKqy1qftymjo1_r2_500

90’s was…… Forrest Gump.

00’s was….. My son was born.

Last year was….. My daughter was born.

Today is…. Today’s trouble is enough for today. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.

Name two of your mentors and describe them in five words.

John Milford, Graduate Professional Practitioner Lecturer, MPA Program UTPA: Influenced me into City Management.

Jose Martinez, Migrant College Access Specialist, Region One Education Service Center: Motivational, Humble, Honest, Honorable, and Overcomer.

What’s your least favorite thing about humanity?

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The social pressures of our world has led the majority of humanity to suppress their “inner voice” when faced with doing the right thing. Many more individuals opt to do what society views as acceptable as opposed to standing for their own beliefs.

How did you hear about ELGL?

I was informed about an upcoming ELGL seminar on January 29 and 30 in Dallas.

Fast forward one year, what will factor into your decision on whether to renew your ELGL membership?

Access to networking and professional development opportunities.

Give us two ideas for attracting and retaining talented individuals to the public sector.

EmploymentFail

Recruit – Expose individuals to local government career opportunities at an early age.

Retain – The private sector recognizes accomplishments in flashy magazines such as Forbes. The public sector needs to have its own version of Forbes for further recognition of local government achievements by professional managers.

What questions should we have asked?

Is years of experience or accomplishments a better way of gauging success for emerging leaders?

What one question you have about ELGL?

How will emerging leaders benefit most from the ELGL program five years down the road?

Supplemental Readingup-SMG182CGAR8SR81Q

La Villa looking at fees to keep stray dogs under control

Hotel coming to La Villa, detention center

La Villa City Employees Required to Take Drug Test

Falfurrias Attributes Much of $1.4 Million in Rainy Day Fund

First Draft: Preparing for the SGR Conference

Clarence E. Ridley Scholarship

I’m the co-founder and executive director of ELGL. I love my job. Other things I love: local government, my family, my dog Michael Jordan, sandwiches, naps, books, and skee-ball.

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