By Miranda Rogers
Routine discussion about City Manager Vance Rodgers’ contract sparked passionate comments during the regular meeting of the Lockhart City Council on Tuesday evening.
It is unclear what sparked the rumors that Councilmember Richard Banks had threatened Rodgers’ employment, or that of any of his department heads, but Banks did say during discussion about the contract renewal that he felt Rodgers had been “unresponsive” to concerns about the performance of certain city department heads.
Earlier in the meeting, though, an army of supporters came forward to express how much they appreciate Rodgers.
“Accessible, approachable, unflappable, respectable and, curiously, a lover of cold milk,” one said.
The collaboration of dialogue expressed on behalf of Vance Rodgers would probably be a fitting title for a book: “Vance Rodgers: a man with a vision in a city that needs one.”
Even former Mayor Ray Sanders came forward to combat what he called “petty vindictiveness” and speculation that Lockhart was not moving forward.
“Despite shortcomings, we make progress,” he said before rattling off a long list of achievements he said Lockhart has made in the past 15 years. Sanders said Lockhart’s lack of growth is not due to lack of effort, and the city manager puts forth many hours of work.
Other citizens agreed that Rodgers seemed to be available and working during almost all hours of the day, and cared about the people he worked for. He was described as a man worthy of respect; many glowing terms were used to describe his service.
Though a performance review will probably come later in the year, Mayor Lew White agreed that Rodgers is a tireless worker, and Councilmember Paul Gomez stated that he would approve a lifetime contract if that option was available.
Whether it was truly the people who swayed his opinion, it was Banks that made the motion to extend Rodgers’ contract for another year – though Gomez was disappointed that the option of a lifetime contract wasn’t available.
After a brief break to allow members of the council to review his existing contract, the council unanimously voted to have Rodgers in the City Manager’s chair for another year.
In other leadership news, White said it was with a great deal of sadness and regret that he announced he had received a letter of resignation from seated District Three City Councilmember Richard “Dick” Wieland.
Wieland, who served as Councimember At Large and was elected in November 2011 to represent District 3, has struggled with ill health for some time since his election, and has missed several council meetings in recent months. His resignation letter, dated June 2, becomes officially effective June 10, 2012.
White said he had instructed city staff to begin preparing for a special-called election to fill the seat. That election is expected to take place in September 2012.
In other news, those who have been eagerly awaiting the Texas Lonestar Grand Prix Karting Event will have to wait a bit longer.
The event, which was scheduled for September 2012, has been tentatively postponed until March 2013. The setback is due to some complications in coordinating the race track.
Originally, the event was going to take place downtown, but because there is not sufficient area to park 150-160 trucks and trailers, City Park is now being considered for holding the event. While City Park has more than enough space, however, there is also the challenge of getting the ground in the condition where people can race safely.
The estimated cost for the paving and other requirements is $85,000, which can be funded as a “4B” project through the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), and the Rodgers will be meeting with them to discuss this possibility.
The amount of the project put some of the council members at odds; Gomez felt that the project was a good investment, while others like Banks and Councilmember John Castillo were worried that the City would not be able to afford it.
White mentioned that the improvements would help facilitate year round events. Ultimately, the council was not ready to make a commitment and is intending to do more research to plan the event.
After researching how portable food concessions were operating in nearby cities like San Marcos and Austin, the council approved for Planning and Zoning to alter the Health and Sanitation Ordinance.
The title of the relevant section been changed to “Portable Food Establishments,” so that it would not be limited to trailers, and would also include trucks and vans. The new title allows for more flexibility, and helps at least one establishment, which had already been grandfathered in, to be more in compliance with the ordinance.
In brief news:
The Irving Club presented a check to the Dr. Eugene Clark Library for $1,600 for funds collected during the Author Tea fundraiser. Additional fundraisers will be held for library improvement by selling name stamped brick pavers to be placed in the proposed main sidewalk entrance to the library. The expansion will help the library to meet the needs of the community with all of the services it offers, and the memorial bricks will both compliment the library as well as greet customers.
Miguel Islas won majority vote to fill the vacant position on the Caldwell County Appraisal District Board of Directors.
Diane McCommas, who owns a childcare establishment, has been granted permission for a zoning change to allow for construction of a 1,500 square foot building to serve as a classroom.
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the Glosserman Conference Room at Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.