City staff, Council members discuss Liberty Hill’s future needs at planning session

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City of Liberty Hill staff met informally with Council members during an day-long retreat Feb. 12 to share updates on ongoing projects and discuss the city’s future needs.

Although no action was taken at the Strategic Planning Session, which was held at Cimarron Hills, City Manager Greg Boatright said the purpose of the meeting was accomplished.

“It’s difficult to delve into major issues at city council meetings,” Boatright said, referring to time constraints. “Today, we got to go into the details so everyone could have a better understanding of what’s happening. It was a very productive day.”

Boatright said the planning session was the idea of Mayor Connie Fuller, who would like to see such an event twice per year.

The meeting began with a discussion involving members of the Economic Development Corp. The EDC will continue to be a integral part of city development. Boatright said the group exchanged ideas for future projects that could impact the local economy.

One of those was the creation of a sculpture park in Lions Foundation Park. Boatright said he would also like the EDC Board to consider purchasing a building downtown that could be used as a museum and visitors’ center.

Downtown revitalization, which has become a priority for elected officials and city staff, was the topic of much discussion. Those plans will be revealed to the public at a meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Council Chamber.

Also on the planning session agenda were detailed presentations by engineers Steger Bizzell on wastewater and water system management. Liberty Hill is quickly becoming the major provider of wastewater services in the region, and is in the process of expanding its wastewater treatment plant.

Boatright also presented a plan for more effective use of city staff.

He said his plan includes reassigning Planner Jim Bechtol to head all operations including planning, transportation and parks. Under that scenario, an additional planner would be hired.

“I’d like to use his (Bechtol’s) expertise beyond a planner,” Boatright said, adding that Bechtol was a parks director, utility director and head of planning for Leander.

“The big picture stuff isn’t getting done right,” Bechtol said, adding that he was pressed for time. “We’re being left behind and slipping through the cracks because we haven’t been communicating with the County.”

Boatright said the City could save money by ending a contract with US Water for management of the wastewater treatment plant and bringing the duties inside — assigning Wayne Bonnett to overse the facility.

“We’re trying to look out in front of where we’re at and where we’re headed. We are a lot different than a normal small city because we’re a regional player with the wastewater treatment plant,” Boatright said.

“We want to put people in positions on our staff to be successful,” Boatright said. “I’m anot all about revenue, but I am about the city being professional and having the resources it needs to provide a good product.”

Still on the topic of personnel, Police Chief Randy Williams said the department needs two more officers to allow staffing 23 hours per day. Williams said he thought the need was there to have more patrol coverage.

Council members and staff discussed how the City would utilize its facilities now that it is purchasing the Holloway building downtown. All members of the Council except Troy Whitehead attended the session for various periods of time. Department heads were present throughout the day.

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