Council hires planner, city secretary, sets terms of P&Z members

By SHELLY WILKISON

Following a 30-minute closed session Monday, the Liberty Hill City Council voted to hire a Planner and a City Secretary at salaries totaling $87,000.

The Council voted unanimously to employ Amber A. Lewis as a Senior Planner at the annual salary of $45,000; and Barbara Zwernemann as City Secretary at a salary of $42,000. The new employees, who were chosen by City Manager Greg Boatright, were present Monday. Mayor Jamie Williamson said they were not interviewed for the positions by the City Council.

Ms. Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from the University of Nebraska in 2001. According to her resume provided to The Independent by the City of Liberty Hill, her most recent job was as executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Holdrege and Holdrege Development Corp. in Holdrege, Nebraska, from 2011 until July 2013.

The Council approved the creation of a Senior Planner position in November although the job was not funded in the current city budget. Boatright said Monday that he would bring a budget amendment for council consideration to a future meeting. Per Council decision, Ms. Lewis will work in the front office off the foyer at City Hall.

Ms. Zwernemann, whose most recent job was executive director of the Georgetown Heritage Society, replaces Tammy Kirk as City Secretary. Mrs. Kirk was reassigned in November 2013 to the position of Municipal Court Clerk.

According to a resume provided by the City, Ms. Zwernemann has administrative experience from Georgetown Health Foundation, St. David’s Georgetown Hospital and Georgetown Healthcare System. She attended a business college in Tyler three years until 1970 and was also educated in court reporting.

In November, Ms. Zwernemann was hired as a part-time clerk for Liberty Hill City Hall at the hourly rate of $15. At the time, Boatright said Ms. Zwernemann would spend most of her time helping the City organize its personnel policies and make sure all employees have the proper training.

Boatright said the City received six applications for the position of City Secretary and interviewed four candidates. Four people applied for the Planner position.

Both positions are full-time.

In other matters Monday, the Council set the terms of office for members of the Planning & Zoning Commission. Boatright explained that all current members were appointed at the same time and given two-year terms. A later ordinance that reduced the number of members from seven to five, which was adopted after their appointments, did not specify the expiration date of each member’s term.

On Monday, the Council drew names to determine whose term would end in September 2014 and who would serve until 2015.

Those members whose terms expire this year include Chris Pezold and William Soja. In 2015, the terms expire for Clyde Davis, Patrick Harlow and Wes Griffin.

In other committee matters, the Council appointed Jack Harkrider to the Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors. Harkrider, a former member of the city council, replaces Councilmember Vicki Brewer who resigned from the EDC Board in December 2013. Mrs. Brewer continues to serve on the Council, but resigned the EDC appointment after the Council adopted an ordinance prohibiting council members from serving on city boards and commissions.

Mrs. Brewer abstained from voting on Harkrider’s appointment, which was approved by a 4-0 vote.

Also Monday, the panel unanimously approved multiple amendments to engineering task orders on ongoing wastewater projects. The amendments, which totalled $99,750 for work that will be completed by Steger Bizzell of Georgetown, related to acquiring wastewater easements from landowners east of US Highway 183, and design changes to the wastewater collection system.

The Council also approved a plan to modify a wastewater service agreement with Municipal Utility District No. 13 to allow for the expansion of the MUD and bring in additional future wastewater customers for the City at the current previously agreed-to rates.

The Council tabled action on a proposal by Councilmember Elizabeth Branigan to post an application to city boards and commissioners within a display ad in The Independent. Ms. Branigan proposed the City purchase two quarter-page ads at a published rate of $340.

“We don’t get enough applications from within the city limits,” Ms. Branigan said. “We aren’t doing enough general outreach.”

Mrs. Brewer said that while she agreed with the purpose of the ads, she believed it would be better to run smaller ads and reduce costs.

In other business, the Council:

* Approved the 2014 holiday schedule for city employees.

* Approved the regular meeting schedule for City Council meetings on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m.