What is going on with our city government?
Last year the newly elected city councilmen and mayor took it upon themselves to fire the city manager. Their reason: “He doing a good job.” If that isn’t it, they didn’t tell us differently.
The City of Lampasas now has an interim city manager. Nothing controversial there, except if he does nothing what do we need him for? Do we have a City Council that wants to take the place of the city manager? The fired man was willing to do the job as directed by the City Council, but personalities took hold and ruined the day.
I read the newspaper, I go to meetings, I try to keep up with the needs of Lampasas. All of a sudden, we need a new fire station, and the City Council led the charge. They did nothing to convince the public that this was the next thing Lampasas needed at the top of the shopping list.
Their planning failed to have the funding to pay for the project, so they went to the county and caused them to break a promise to their voters and join in that funding in what is now a joint city-county building. I hope this union works out. That might be a good thing, but how we got there is not.
I did not say we do not need a new fire department. I am saying the powers-that-be did not invite us, the public, to be involved in the early stages of their planning.
A landlord outside of the city limits wanted to rent a property within the city limits to a tattoo parlor. The neighbors of the potential business came out in force and objected. Based on the overwhelming neighborhood response, the Planning and Zoning Board recommended to the City Council that the permit should be denied.
There was a lot of noise made all over town about this matter. The City Council gets the final say in the matter. And if you were there, the City Council and mayor wanted to overturn the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation and grant the tattoo parlor a permit to operate in a predominately family neighborhood. But there were not enough votes to overturn the P&Z recommendation.
A non-resident citizen of Lampasas said we should do away with the P&Z Board. When the city does away with the P&Z Board, will it be OK to have an “adult-themed” shop locate right next door to a kindergarten? We might not have anyone to take our objections to.
Last week, the City Council held a workshop, and they may have been surprised to see an audience. It wasn’t overflowing, but almost every seat was taken. The topic of discussion: how to change the boards that help guide the city through its planning operations.
The City Council has failed to reappoint board members when the time to do so has passed. Instead, they want to change the rules instead of following the code now in place. Some want to allow business- owning taxpayers who live outside the city limits to hold positions on boards. These same business owners cannot run for City Council, but they could serve on a board. OK, there are some very good people who live on the edge of town. But the council will have to define that better.
Just how far out of town can you live to be able to serve on a board? You could live outside the city limits, serve on a city board and oppose annexation. Does the council want to invite different people to serve on these boards or do they want to replace longtime board members with people who think like they do?
Did someone say no consecutive terms? They are talking about term limits (but no term limits for their own office). If that’s so, by the time you read the zoning ordinance all the way through and understand it, you could no longer serve on that board. We will quickly reach a point where people who want to help guide the city can no longer serve on one of its boards.
If the world was perfect, every citizen of town would serve on a board at some point in time. It just isn’t so.
Is this the right direction for Lampasas to take? I cannot help but wonder just who is guiding the City Council in the direction it has been taking. I go to meetings, and I get up and speak. At the last workshop, a public meeting where ideas are exchanged, I felt like the mayor did not want to give me another turn to speak. I felt kinda like my saying anything was a delay to that point in time for adjournment. I was made to feel like my comments were not worth hearing.
And after re-reading the above, I don’t think I have said anything that concerned citizens of this town don’t already know.
Editor’s note: Jeff Jackson is a member of the Lampasas Planning and Zoning Commission, and a former member of the city's Capital Improvements Program committee.