Failure to post meeting notice delays transfer of water operations

Failure to post proper notice of a meeting that was scheduled for Friday, June 24, by vote of the Board of Directors of the Liberty Hill Water Supply Corp. has delayed the transfer of operations of the water system to the City of Liberty Hill.

In a special called meeting Tuesday, the City Council voted 4-1 to accept the transfer of operations of the LHWSC contingent upon the LHWSC Board’s action on Friday.

On Monday, the water Board voted 3-2 to ask the City to take over the daily operations of the water system for a monthly fee not to exceed $5,000 per month. The Council considered the request during a one-hour executive session Tuesday, and reconvened to accept the offer, with Council member Wendell McLeod voting no.

However, the agenda for the LHWSC’s Friday meeting was not posted in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act, which requires 72 hours advance notice. To comply with the law, the agenda should have been posted on the door of the water office on Grove Street prior to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Independent learned the meeting was not posted in a timely way when it stopped by the LHWSC office to view the agenda about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. At that time, the agenda for the June 20th meeting remained on the door and notice of a future meeting had not been posted.

When The Independent returned to the water office at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, an agenda was posted for a 6:30 p.m. meeting June 24 — a document posted within 72 hours of the meeting, which violates the state’s posting law.

McLeod, who serves as General Manager for the LHWSC and holds a position on the water board, voted against the plan to transfer water system operations to the City when it was presented to both the LHWSC Board and the Council at its special meeting Tuesday.

LHWSC Attorney Richard Hamala confirmed Wednesday that it is McLeod’s responsibility to post the meeting agendas.

“Clearly, this was an attempt on Wendell’s part to delay action that the water Board and the Council had already agreed upon,” said City Attorney Kerry Rusell. “Wendell was involved in that discussion (in the Council’s executive session Tuesday) and he never mentioned this (failure to post the LHWSC agenda).”

Russell said McLeod’s continued failure to comply with the will and directives of the majority of the water board and the City Council “has possibly put the city in the position of running out of water in 60 days. I can’t stress how critical this situation is.”

In a written statement issued to The Independent on behalf of the City, Russell wrote: “The City’s primary goal is to assure adequate water supply for Liberty Hill area residents during this critical drought situation.

“The City is committed to following all legal requirements in assuming water system operations and hopes this matter will be resolved on Monday (June 27),” he wrote. “From a legal perspective, the City regrets that the LHWSC’s Friday meeting was not properly posted.”

About 4 p.m. Wednesday, an agenda was posted announcing the Board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 25. On the agenda is an action item regarding the reassessment of the “compensation and duties” of the General Manager.

The City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 27.