Rhea resigns from Council
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Liberty Hill Council Member Ron Rhea, who has served for five years, resigned from the Council in a letter dated July 5.
The Council voted unanimously Monday to accept the resignation, but did not discuss future plans to fill the vacancy. Rhea’s term was set to expire in May 2020.
“The main thing that prompted this was my health,” Rhea said. “I have not been feeling all that great and I had a couple of heart attacks a while back and one was pretty severe. I’ve just been thinking a lot about that with my family and the church, and it is what will be best for my family, my grandchildren and even for the City.”
Rhea, who had indicated previously he did not intend to seek reelection next May, said it was a hard decision because he will miss working with the City staff.
“I think Greg Boatright and the staff are the secret sauce when it comes to the growth of our City and where we’re at,” Rhea said. “I greatly admire them because they are hardworking, dedicated people.”
Over the past year, Rhea has sometimes clashed with Mayor Rick Hall over many issues, most recently regarding supervisory authority over City staff members. He said he hopes that does not grow into a bigger issue moving forward as he leaves the Council.
“I hope there is not going to be a conflict when it comes to roles,” Rhea said. “The staff needs to know who they need to be loyal to. I’m hoping there will not be two heads running the City. If they will allow Greg Boatright to run the City and manage it properly then I think it will be good. But if there’s going to be micromanagement from the Mayor, I think that’s not going to be very good for the City.”
The importance of proper management of staff and the City’s finances have been a focus for Rhea as he has long-advocated for protecting the City’s bond rating.
The Council heard a presentation Monday from the Ferguson Company on proposed new water meters that would increase the City’s ability – as well as residents – to monitor and manage the water system.
The vote on whether to spend $750,000 on the purchase and installation of 1,010 new meters, which would cover existing account holders with the City, was postponed after a request by City Administrator Greg Boatright to give staff time to research costs and potential issue connected to the ongoing negotiations with Georgetown to purchase a portion of its service area.
The primary concern was the cost of purchasing the additional 4,500 meters that would be needed if the negotiations with Georgetown were successful.
The AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) meters would offer a variety of new tools beyond the current drive by meters where they are read monthly with a radio signal. Water can be remotely connected or disconnected with the new meters, which would also provide hourly consumption data, which Ferguson representatives said would also help detect leaks faster.
The City would be able to notify account holders of potential leaks quickly and even turn the water off remotely for residences and businesses with leaks.
The lifespan of the new meters is 20 years, and they would come with a full 10-year warranty.
The Council unanimously approved a bid award to Ritter-Botkin Prime Construction in the amount of $121,427.70 for phase one construction of the trail at City Park.
The new trail will run south from the park’s second entrance, adjacent to where the Swim Center is being built, around the southern end of the park and back to the playscape area. Phase two will eventually circle the north end of the park.
The City received six bids on the project, ranging from Ritter-Botkin’s low bid up to $199,218.
Liberty Hill has a new Emergency Management Coordinator. Casey Cobb, who has been interning with the City in that role as part of his retirement from the U.S. Navy, was hired to fill the newly-created position.
Cobb’s salary is expected to be at the midpoint of the approved salary range, which is about $60,000.