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2011-04-21

Special city meeting ends with Foerster's resignation

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Short governmental meetings are becoming the norm rather than the exception in Bandera.
On Friday, April 15, Bandera City Council called a special meeting to accept the resignation of longtime City Administrator and Treasurer-Finance Director Gene Foerster. Also on the agenda was the appointment of an interim administrator and financial director, as well as appointment of a permanent city administrator and financial director and a review of the necessary job duties and qualifications. All in all, it appeared to be an ambitious agenda for a special meeting on a Friday afternoon.
Prior to the beginning of official business, city resident Kay Welch took council to task for allowing Foerster to tender his resignation - much less to even consider actually accept it. She called council's "decision" a "disservice not only to the citizens of the city, but also to Bandera County, the businesses and visitors."
Welch continued, "You disrespect your city administrator and refuse to work with him and his recommendations for the city. You balk at his car allowance, yet other city employees are allowed to take home municipal vehicles."
Concluding, Welch noted, "I am highly frustrated and disappointed. You forget who you work for."
Interestingly, Welch was allowed to address council at length although the citizens' comment item was inadvertently left off the agenda.
In later interviews, council members seemed perplexed by what was described as Welch's "diatribe."
Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher pointed out that, in fact, no one on council had called for Foerster's resignation. "I was as surprised as everyone else when I received Gene's 'intent to retire' letter included with the monthly managerial report. In light of that, I find Ms. Welch's remarks very interesting."
Concurring with her colleague, Councilman Nancy Montgomery said, "No one had asked for Gene to retire or resign. That decision was of his own volition."
"Several times during the meeting, she commented we didn't understand what was going on," noted Councilman Binky Archer. "I think perhaps it was Ms. Welch who doesn't understand."
Recently, council had twice thwarted Foerster's attempts to enact a mid-budget year raise for municipal employees, hire a part-time administrative employee and have his $300 per month travel allowance reinstated. Council had apparently rejected the three items during budget meetings in late summer and early fall 2010.
After discussions concluded last Friday, council unanimously approved accepting Foerster's resignation, effective at the end of April.
Additionally, Foerster had proposed continuing as an interim financial director-treasurer, working 16 hours a week at $30 an hour. He would also be available to train a permanent employee, when hired. Current salary for Bandera City Administrator is $44,500 a year.
Councilman John Hegemier's motion to utilize Foerster in the interim position of financial director-treasurer died for a lack of a second.
Schumacher suggested that council check other possibilities before accepting Foerster's offer.
Archer recommended that the other agenda items be tabled and the city administrator's job description be updated and modified for further discussion during a regular meeting on Thursday, April 21.
Her motion was approved 4-0 with alacrity.