Council initiated new procedures for meetings last week, and at Monday’s City Council meeting, several people expressed their displeasure with them.
The rules, intended to make meetings run smoothly, call for a limit on the amount of time that a speaker can have the floor when addressing Council, the process for being allowed to speak in the open meetings, and so on. The guidelines are very similar to those used by Llano County Commissioners and the Llano ISD, as well as numerous other cities and municipalities.
However, opponents of the procedures believe that they new rules are a way to silence the people, and are asking that they be revoked.
In the second public hearing regarding raising the tax rate to $ .41 /$100, Council heard from Marc Sewell, who suggested that with only a 1% deficit, the City should be able to cut the budget without raising taxes.
Council approved an amendment to the Two Pro Golf Management contract, which will allow Superintendent and Pro Golfer Clay Mearns to sell merchandise at the pro shop for a profit, with a percentage of those sales going to the City.
Council also approved obtaining the services of Hejl/Lee and Associates to assist the City in the areas of wastewater permit amendment, effluent reuse, and wellfield reconnaissance.
Modifications to the budget were discussed, and following questions from citizens, were approved. The amended budget will be online at the City of Llano’s website some time Wednesday.
Following discussion, Alderwoman Jeanne Puryear gave a written statement, responding to recent allegations in advertising in the newspaper, which had no nam- nor is there a name on the website that the ad refers to. (Later in the meeting, Marc Sewell said that he had received other complaints about the website not having names, and said that there would be soon.)
“As an Alderwoman, I am tired of council being portrayed as blind sheep being led to slaughter by a City Manager and a Mayor who are supposedly lying to council and the public with misleading statements and supposed facts.”
She said that the City Manager, who was hired by a previous Council, answers to the current Council, and because they are elected officials, also answers to the citizens of Llano. Puryear stated that he (City Manager) has never failed to be available, and has also responded to any and all questions.
In response to an ad run by Llanowatch.org last week, Puryear issued this statement, “These are the facts regarding the salary of Mr. DeGaffenreid. At the beginning of the fiscal year 2012, Council conducted a performance review of Mr. DeGaffenreid…using a salary range table for exempt employees, that increase was a merit raise based on the review and on the superior and timely actions that he had taken from May to October, during the exceptional drought and water crisis experienced last summer.”
In closing, she said, “the budget process this year has been difficult at best, but the city staff is exceptional at what they do and although all things are never perfect, they deserve council’s respect and citizen’s as well.”
Council voted to move the City back to Stage 2 in the Water Restrictions. Local landscaper Allen Hopson urged Council to come to a compromise for those who relied on water for the livelihood to relax the rules so that they can stay in business.
The last and final hearing on the tax rate increase will be September 17.