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2016-10-13

Bandera City Council may vote to appoint interim treasurer to permanent

By Steven James BCC Editor

The main topic at Bandera City Council’s regular meeting Thursday night was to consider the appointment of interim treasurer Rose Garr to a permanent position. Due to the fact that Garr’s husband, Michael, is the current city administrator, a scheduled discussion was held to review issues of possible conflicts of interest and nepotism.
Following an hour-long Executive Session, council member Cindy Coffey proposed the motion to call for a resolution to amend current policy, having Rose report to the mayor and city council, rather than to the city administrator. Coffey asked the council to make this one-time exception because of the money Rose has saved Bandera, as well as the work she has done to organize the books. If appointed, Rose will continue to report to Mayor John Hegemier and to the council.
Coffee said she was comfortable making the motion because, based on personal experience, when a city administrator is brought in to a small population, Type A General Law City like Bandera, responsibilities are given to him to ease the mayor, who is normally the chief executive officer. Coffey said most Type A General Law Cities do not have city administrators, though, which is why having Rose report to the mayor and the council can function.
Typically, a Type A General Law City has one mayor and five city council members, according to the Texas Municipal League. The mayor does not vote except to break a tie, and councilmembers have two-year terms, also according to the TML.
“So, basically, we are within our rights to pull that position and have it report back to the mayor, to the council, because that is the original intent of a General Type A City,” Coffey said. “I’ve seen some situations, by reading newspapers and stuff, where it has gone awry when they brought in a city administrator, and things were not getting handled and they have to go back and re-delegate the responsibilities. But I don’t see that here.”
The council voted 3-2 to present a resolution to amend current policy allowing the full-time appointment. Coffey said she would like the resolution to pass at the next meeting, so the appointment can be made official at that time.
Council members Rebecca Gibson and Sheila Pumphrey abstained.
“There is a consistent opinion that Rose is doing a fantastic job, and we really appreciate the part she’s doing,” Gibson said after further discussion. “But at the time, I feel it’s appropriate [for her] to just remain as interim.”
City council did not want the reporting process to change, but because of the nepotism issue, Rose could not report to the city administrator and be 100 percent objective, Gibson said. The discussion of appointing Rose was an item on the meeting’s agenda.
Gibson tried getting the item removed in a motion that passed, but Coffey challenged the vote, killing Gibson’s motion with her proposal to try to appoint Rose in the next meeting.
“There are laws in place for this specifically,” Gibson said. “There are reasons that the laws are in place. There are also processes in place that city council commonly practices and agreed to do, that when Rose got us through the mess that was in the treasurer’s office that we would post and advertise and interview a number of candidates and select from a group of qualified people before posting the treasurer’s full-time position. I’m disappointed to see the council not willing to follow through with that commitment.”
The city administrator is the city’s chief administrative officer, according to Bandera’s Code of Ordinances. He reports to the main governing body, being the city council, and to the mayor, who is also the city’s chief executive officer.
His duties include making sure all pertinent laws and ordinances are enforced, making sure the city’s budget is reported to city council and making additional purchases on behalf of the city, so long as the purchase is within the current budget or does not exceed $1,500, also according to the Code of Ordinances.
The Code also states the city administrator oversees certain needs of the city’s computer systems, exercises financial control over city activities with government permission and supervise, assign projects and conduct business with all department heads and city employees.
People in the audience voiced their opinions throughout the meeting. Former council member Suzanne Schauman, who is running for mayor, said it is time to move past the nepotism issue.
“Please, she is doing a fantastic job,” Schauman said. “The question of nepotism has been answered. It’s been asked and answered twice now. Remember this: this council voted unanimously to appoint her interim [treasurer], and Mike was already sitting in here as the city administrator. The question of nepotism did not come up at that time.”
In other actions, the council voted to approve minutes for meetings on Aug. 31, Sept. 15, the public hearing on Sept. 15, the public hearing on Sept. 28 and the special called meeting on Sept. 29.
Votes were passed to upgrade the city phone system, with internet-based, fiber-optic connections, and to sign a resolution authorizing the city administrator to sign all documents relating to the title policy and lawsuit of the Della Bailey Estate.
As a result of discussion in Executive Session, the council approved the city administrator’s benefit package, which Michael Garr said includes opportunities for vacation time and a vehicle allowance.
The council approved the close of Eighth Street between Maple and Cypress Streets on Sunday, Oct. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. for City Trash cleanup.
In addition, a workshop for the Park Master Plan has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 at Bandera City Hall.