Leander approves meeting change, establishes City Manager Task Force


Here’s a quick rundown of three notable items approved during the Leander City Council’s Thursday, June 6 regular meeting:

Staff Briefings 

First, the council voted 5-to-1 to move the council’s starting time to 7 p.m. and begin holding staff briefings before council meetings at 6 p.m. Staff briefings would involve a quorum of the council meeting with the City Manager and other relevant members of city staff in the San Gabriel Conference Room to discuss questions the council members have about items on the council meeting’s agenda.

Council Member Christine Sederquist was the lone dissenting vote. Council Member Michelle Stephenson was absent.

The first instance of these briefing meetings is expected to be held before the July 9 regular council meeting. City spokesperson Mike Neu said the agenda for staff briefings will be posted right above the agenda for the subsequent city council meeting, and the agenda will state the topics covered could be any agenda items listed in the council meeting agenda. Notice of the meetings will be consolidated under one posted agenda to include notice of a workshop, if scheduled, and the briefing session and regular meeting agenda items to be discussed. Both the briefing and council agendas will be posted at least 72-hours before the day they occur.

Neu said these briefing discussions will be limited only to items posted on the council meeting’s regular agenda. 

He said the city does not plan to live stream video of these meetings nor make audio recordings. However, Neu said the city will keep minutes of the meetings, though it has not yet been determined how detailed the minutes will be when published.

Neu said the public can get a good idea of what the minutes will look like by reviewing the minutes from the council’s last retreat, which also was not recorded on video or audio. Those minutes do cover brought items of discussion from the retreat but does not specify who asked any particular question.

Neu said the minutes will be published when agendas for the next regularly scheduled council meeting are posted. Council meetings typically occur every two weeks. He said someone looking to obtain them sooner could request a draft version of the notes, when available.

Neu explained that the staff briefings would allow council members an opportunity to ask questions and give city staff an opportunity to gather some more information if needed, thus allowing for a more informative discussion during the council meeting.

City Manager Deliberations 

The council deliberated for more than three hours, convening into its regular public agenda between, on agenda items related to the city manager. 

In the end, the council decided not to take action on two items: a discussion about further details on the Interim City Manager’s position, and a discussion with the city’s legal counsel about the City Manager’s employment agreement documents. The latter could have involved either the former city manager, Kent Cagle’s employment agreement, and/or future city manager agreements. 

The council did take action on a third agenda item from its executive session, voting unanimously appointing Mayor Troy Hill, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Czernek and Council Member Jason Shaw to a City Manager Task Force.

Further details about the task force, including specifics about what they will discuss, are still pending.

In response to inquiries from the Hill Country News, Neu stated the Home Rule Charter rules require four council members to constitute a quorum. The rules regarding a quorum of city council members dictates whether a meeting must be open to the public and whether records of the meetings must be kept. Additional details about the task forces are still pending.

Building Code, Enforcement Appeals

The council unanimously approved an agenda item modifying the city’s Building Code to streamline appeals of Certificate of Occupation citations and improve safety requirements related to retaining walls.

The first modifies the language on requiring guardrails and other barriers, or fall protection, for all walls taller than 4 feet. It also includes an option allowing city officials to require temporary fall protection during the construction of a wall.

The code originally only applied to retaining walls and only walls over 3 feet. Neu said the change is meant to align the language with the permitting regulations.

The second change streamlines the process for reviewing citations by the city for anyone occupying a building without first having obtained a Certificate of Occupancy. Previously, an individual who wished to dispute the citation was required to have the city manager review the case. Then, if they were not satisfied with the city manager's determination, they could appeal the decision to the Leander Municipal Court.

The new allow the individual to make an appeal directly to the city’s municipal court, with the intent of freeing up time for the city manager by removing that position from the process.

The Hill Country News will post the more in-depth version of these stories in the next few days.