Mike Crane resigns from City Council

By Joseph Garcia

The Liberty Hill City Council accepted the resignation of Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Crane on Monday, but tabled a proposal to appoint Liz Branigan as his replacement.

A brief letter was hand-written by Crane and dated Wednesday, Nov. 7, but a second version was given to Liberty Hill officials on Monday, reaffirming his resignation. Mayor Williamson read the letter aloud at the meeting.

“I am sad to say that I will be resigning my position from the Liberty Hill City Council effective immediately,” Mrs. Williamson quoted from the letter. “This decision was made last week because of a personal position of my part. I have prayed extensively over this and I believe that this decision is appropriate. I have full confidence in the leadership of the City of Liberty Hill. Respectfully, Mike Crane.”

Crane was the Mayor Pro Tem and the business of appointing someone new to the position was on the agenda; however, it was tabled until the next regular meeting.

Mayor Williamson recommended the Council appoint Ms. Branigan to fill the vacancy.

Ms. Branigan is an appointed member of the City’s Parks and Recreation Board. She has previously been a candidate for City Council. In May, she sought to fill the Place 5 position, which was won by Sammy Pruett. In that race, Ms. Branigan received the least number of votes (26) behind Pruett and candidates Jim Wofford and Liz Rundzieher.

“I did a quick search of persons I felt had history with Liberty Hill, had been here quite some time, had been involved with various boards and was fairly knowledgeable of government goings on right now,” said Mayor Williamson. “I went and visited with Mrs. Branigan and asked her if she would be interested in serving with the understanding that it was not my decision, it was a Council decision.”

Councilwoman Vicki Brewer said she also felt Branigan would be a good fit for the position.

“It’s my recommendation that we appoint Mrs. Branigan,” Mrs. Brewer said.

Councilmember Wendell McLeod disagreed, not wanting to rush such an important decision.

“I think we need to think about it and talk about it,” said McLeod. “I don’t think we need to do it now.”

Councilmember Byron Tippie agreed adding, “Let’s give Sammy (Pruett) an opportunity to talk and really let’s just talk about this together,”

Councilman Pruett was not present Monday.

Also on Monday, the Council approved a variance by a 2-1 vote for a digital billboard that is to go up at the intersection of State Highway 29 and U.S Highway 183 at Seward Junction. McLeod cast the no vote.

The Council also voted 3-0 to pay Pedernales Electric Cooperative a sum of $9,420 for power installation at City Park on CR 200.

The Council also repealed Ordinance No. 10-0-25 for the designation of an official newspaper for the City. The ordinance was from the 2011 fiscal year, so the Council had to repeal it in order to adopt a new ordinance designating an official newspaper.

The repeal was followed by a resolution, which was passed 3-0, to designate The Liberty Hill Independent the official newspaper of the City for fiscal 2012.

In other business, the Council announced it would donate $3,596.38 in funds for the Liberty Hill Christmas Festival after passing the item with a 3-0 vote.

Five items on Monday’s regular meeting agenda were tabled.

Economic Development Corp.  President Frank Spinosa proposed a fiscal 2012 budget for the EDC that included funding for an EDC director. The EDC Board of Directors adopted the budget at its meeting in late October.

The EDC’s total expenditures matched the amount approved in the City’s budget adopted by  the Council in September. The Council’s adopted budget for the EDC did not include input from the Board. Before his resignation, Crane suggested and other Council members agreed to revisit the EDC budget after that Board had agreed to a proposal.

However, both the budget as well as pending appointments to the EDC were tabled.

The Council spent 33 minutes in executive session, but took no action after reconvening in public meeting.