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2014-04-10

Just another special meeting in paradise

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A City of Bandera special meeting-workshop that began at 9 am on Tuesday, April 1, lasted 30 minutes. A special meeting slated for Thursday, March 27, lasted 40 minutes. In two weeks, city council spent exactly an hour and a quarter - being generous - on city business. However, a regular council meeting, scheduled for 6 pm, Thursday, April 3, was cancelled. No telling what might have happened with an hour's more governance by the municipal's elected officials.
To recap the half hour, council appointed Bruce Hanks, owner of Starlight Bookkeeping as interim treasurer in the wake of the resignation of Mae Vion Meyer. Hanks had consulted with Meyer and, according to council, should be familiar with the city books. Meyer, meanwhile, now works in the bookkeeping department of True Value Hardware.
Since it's tax season, Hanks must do most of his work for the city after hours. Consequently, council ruled that a city employee must be present at all times while Hanks is going over the ledgers after 5 pm.
Additionally, council appointed Martha Shoemaker as interim city secretary after Linda Boshek resigned. Shoemaker is a member of the Bandera Economic Development Corporation.
Winnowing out apps
A second action item concerned the appointment of two council members to review applications for city administrator. In a bit of institutional memory, Mayor Don Clark said, "I believe we've already done this." Indeed council had, but only by consensus.
Earlier, council had asked Mayor Pro Tem John Hegemier and Councilman Suzanne Schauman to serve as gatekeepers to winnow out candidates deemed unacceptable.
"We'll whittle the applications down to a reasonable number and bring them back to (council)," Hegemier said.
"Get copies of the applications to us and we'll grade them and get back to you," Mayor Clark suggested.
Just to be on the safe side, Mayor Clark officially appointed Hegemier and Schauman to their tasks - narrowing down prospects and setting up interview times.
Job descriptions redux
Sliding into the workshop portion of the meeting, council took up the "duties and job description of secretary and city treasurer and advertising for positions." Schauman had collected myriad documents discussing descriptions from the Local Government Code, city ordinances and documents turned in by Boshek and Meyer. "We need to look at what we require vs. what the state requires," Schauman said. She told council she would be glad to develop a draft of the job descriptions, but first she needed to know "what the duties would be."
By way of discussion, Mayor Clark said, "Let Suzanne start working on it."
"We need to get going on this," added Councilman Glenn Clark.
"Need any help?" asked Council Jim Hannah.
To which Schauman replied, "You don't even have a cell phone."
"I don't want a cell phone," Hannah rejoined.
Which begs a slightly off-topic question: How do constituents contact Hannah with questions and concerns?
Salary review?
During the workshop, council also attempted to review the salary structure of all city employees. This came as a result of council offering City Administrator Mike Cardenas, a 25-year municipal employee, less salary as director of public works than that of a starting deputy marshal. And, less than a department head with about a year working for the city.
Longevity, however, cut no ice with Glenn Clark, who said, "At the last meeting, it was said that it was not fair that some department heads make more than others. (Equal pay) is not a written rule. There's no criterion for setting wages across the board where everyone is equal. It depends on job descriptions and responsibilities."
Glenn Clark opined that the discussion on reevaluating salaries should be taken up during the budget process rather than now. "When the budget was done, these salaries were agreed upon," he said. "If it wasn't fair, why wasn't it discussed then?"
Then came a moment of confusion when the mayor attempted to determine who put the item on the agenda. Apparently the item had been a consensus decision of council during the last special meeting. As Hegemier explained, "It was put on specifically for the salary of the director of public works."
No 'extra $$$'
According to Mayor Clark, the salary for the new city administrator might be between $55,000 and $60,000. He said council would have to determine a salary for Cardenas as director of public works before hiring a city administrator.
Hegemier proposed offering Cardenas a salary of $48,223 with a 5 percent raise, bringing his salary closer to that of City Marshal James "Charlie" Hicks.
In response, Cardenas noted that, as public works director, he has responsibility for the city streets, water, wastewater, parks and animal control, as well as nine employees.
During the discussion, council consulted a spreadsheet that contained salaries of all city employees. However, some employees, such as an assistant utility clerk, were, in fact, nonexistent - which Cardenas pointed out when Schauman discovered what she considered "extra money."
Schauman then requested a spreadsheet with "real numbers," saying, "We received this spreadsheet this morning. We need to know how much we're spending on salaries before we can determine how much extra money we have."
However, according to previous complaints by Hannah, the city has no "extra money," and is, in fact, operating in the red.
Cardenas promised to have "real numbers" to Schauman before the next council meeting, slated for 6 pm, Thursday, April 17.
"If we have the information, we can make informed decisions," Schauman replied optimistically.
Regarding council's chronic state of confusion, concerned citizen Rilla Stephens said, "I don't understand why you don't understand." Chiding council, she noted it was time for them to make a decision about something and "not keep saying you need another workshop."