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2014-02-27

City workshop reports complete - finally

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Although Bandera City Council meets just once a month, special sessions-workshops-brainstorming sessions were called on Friday, Jan. 17, and Saturday, Jan. 25. As per a recommendation from the Texas Municipal League, agendas for both meetings were the same.
Minutiae
On Jan. 17, Councilman Nita Jenkins asked for an inventory of all public works equipment and for City Administrator Mike Cardenas to supply a daily log of what employees are working where and for how long. "I'm not sure how many workers the city has and the hours they work," she said.
By way of clarifying her request, Cardenas asked, "Do you want to know how many potholes were patched?"
Seeming to run interference for Jenkins, Mayor Don Clark noted, "Minutiae like that is not necessary to run a business. We don't need to know about every hour that was worked."
However, Jenkins repeated her request for a report about the number of hours put in by public works department employees and where the work took place. In particular, she referenced the city's contract with the Flying L PUD.
Former Councilman Brandi Morgan reminded council that previously Cardenas had made a monthly report at the request of council. "Mike has given this information many times in the past," she said.
Cardenas agreed to give monthly updates on the public works projects.
Jenkins' concern about inventorying public works equipment seemed to be a harbinger of her accusation on Thursday, Feb. 13 that Cardenas had misappropriated equipment owned by the city.
P&Z & permits
Councilman Glenn Clark also advocated "ways to utilize the Planning and Zoning Commission and Economic Development Corporation and the possible reinstatement of the Board of Adjustments." He noted that at one time, P&Z was a part of the issuance of permits.
Councilman Jim Hannah felt P&Z should be a part of the permitting process particularly when development is proposed on Main Street. "All of Main Street is in the historical district, so P&Z must be notified when permits are applied for," Hannah said.
Additionally, Glenn Clark queried Cardenas about the need for signatures on permits issued by the city. Previously, signatures were not necessary for seasonal and temporary permits, but two signatures would now be required - that of city administrator and building inspector. "This would allow for more checks and balances," Cardenas said.
On Jan. 25, it was decided that three signatures - those of the city administrator, mayor and code enforcement officer - would be affixed to building permits.
Councilman Suzanne Schauman suggested the new permitting requirements be posted on the Internet.
Cardenas dispelled rumors that, as building inspector, Victor Strickland is being told "what to do and what not to do." According to Cardenas, Strickland can stop at any location (for any reason).
If that were the case, former Councilman Nancy Montgomery suggested that Strickland should identify himself when approaching businesses and residents. "It would make everyone more comfortable," she said.
Strickland is currently studying for his certification, according to Cardenas.
On Jan. 17, a question arose about how many times an eight-month seasonal permit could be renewed. As written, the ordinance covering seasonal businesses imposes no limit, Cardenas said.
At this time, no applications for seasonal permits are pending in the city.
Who sets agendas?
On Jan. 25, Hannah brought up complaints about the current procedure for placing items on city council agendas. "Things that should be put on the agenda are taking three to four months," he said. "Who puts items on the agenda?"
While agenda items are usually discussed on Mondays, Cardenas noted that, ultimately, it is the mayor's decision not to include items on the agenda - particularly those suggested by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Apparently, Bandera Planning and Zoning Chairman Tony Battle has long wanted recommendations from the Long Range Master Plan, including western facades and sidewalks, to be included in city ordinances.
"Until items get on the council's agenda, the EDC is stalemated," added Martha Shoemaker, a member of the Economic Development Corporation. "We changed our meeting schedule to accommodate city council."
Council reached a consensus that recommendations from P&Z and EDC be placed on the agenda as soon as possible.
Battle appeared before council during the Thursday, Feb. 13, meeting. Council approved with alacrity preliminaries for the sidewalk project. Additionally, municipal attorney Monte Akers is reviewing ordinances to have them include master plan recommendations
Cardenas also noted that despite repeated requests, the historical overlay map had also not been placed on the agenda.
Two meetings redux
The discussion prompted Schauman to suggest, for the next few months at least, council resume two meetings per month - on the first and third Thursdays as defined in the city ordinance. During a regular meeting on Feb. 13, council approved returning to two meetings per month on the days Schauman suggested to preclude further extensive agendas.
When discussions turned to reconstituting the Board of Adjustments, Cardenas reminded council that rulings from that board are final and council cannot overrule the decisions. It was noted that council had taken over as Board of Adjustments because "the people elected us."
It was suggested that good lines of communication between the commission, corporation and council be established and maintained.
A suggestion by Jenkins that council retreat to an executive session to discuss what had been learned from the two workshops was not placed on the Feb. 13 agenda. The only items that can be discussed legally behind closed doors are consultations with attorney, personnel matters, economic development and deliberations about real property, gifts and donations and security devices.