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2015-12-10

City may need new administrator

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Archive photo
In happier days, former Bandera Mayor Don Clark, left, congratulated Lamar Schulz on his new position as city administrator. Approximately 18 months later, city council unanimously approved instructing the city attorney to work with Mayor John Hegemier to develop a severance package for Schulz.



Although he was employed by the City of Bandera's longer than other erstwhile staff, including a public works director of three months and a revolving series of city treasurers, all signs point to Administrator Lamar Schulz as being on his way out.
After an executive session on Thursday, Dec. 3, city council voted unanimously to instruct the city attorney to work with the mayor and develop a severance package for the city administrator, according to Mayor John Hegemier. The severance package comes after Schulz's employment of just a year and a half. Furthermore, he had no contract with the city, according to Hegemier.
When asked about the rationale for giving a so-called "parachute" to an employee of such a relatively short duration, Hegemier said, "It just seemed like the right thing to do." He seemed nonplussed after learning that city taxpayers - who in the long run must pony up the funds for the package - might not agree with him.
Additionally, Hegemier said, even should both parties agree to a severance package, a federal law provides for a seven-day waiting period before it goes into effect. This "waiting period" is applicable only to employees over the age of 40 years, Hegemier said.
In September 2011, council voted to reduce the police department. Consequently, three officers involved were given a severance package that included two weeks pay plus vacation time.
Council's decision to essentially cut Schulz loose came only after several marathon executive sessions. The first on Friday, Nov. 20, lasted six hours. After no consensus could be reached, the closed session was reconvened the following Monday. To terminate an appointed employee, a supermajority is needed with at least four out of five councilmen voting in favor, according to Hegemier.
As of Tuesday, Dec. 8, however, Schulz remained on the job.
He was hired as city administrator in April 2014 at a yearly salary of $53,000. An article that was published in the Courier at the time noted Schulz appeared to be the choice of former Mayor Don Clark after having been thoroughly "vetted" by Councilman Jim Hannah.
Prior to taking the position in Bandera, Schulz had worked at the now-defunct Scooter Store in New Branufels. From June 2000 through March 2013, he was employed as mobility consultant, resource specialist, outbound specialist and, from 2004 through 2013, as Specialist III, working in the financial department.
Schulz's hiring by the city proved awkward because council had neglected to officially reassign the then-current City Administrator Mike Cardenas as director of public works only. For a lengthy period, the longtime city employee had served as both city administrator and director of public works. Shortly after, Cardenas and his attorney negotiated their own severance package with the City of Bandera.
After Schulz's departure, Hegemier will serve as interim until a new city administrator is hired. "Obviously, I have this library job so I won't be able to dedicate too much time (at city hall,)" he said. Hegemier is the longtime director of the Bandera County Library. He added, however, "The search for a new city administrator hasn't been discussed yet."
Ironically, Hegemier professed not to have known that the city administrator's execution of his duties had become problematic. "I thought everything was okay," Hegemier said. "I really didn't know there was a problem."