Council approves new social media policy

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By SHELLY WILKISON

Seated together at the dais Monday for the first time since March, the unmasked City Council approved changes to the City’s Social Media Policy, authorized the Mayor to negotiate an agreement for the purchase of Lions Foundation Park, and switched members’ appointments on city committees.

In addition to naming certain City staff members who are authorized to use City social media pages, the new policy provides guidelines on moderating comments to City posts. Authorized employees, including the Mayor, may remove personal attacks, derogatory content, political endorsements, sensitive personal information, fraudulent or harassing material. “We wish to promote effective communication with respectful dialogue,” the policy states.

The City’s social media sites are subject to the Texas Public Information Act, including a list of subscribers and posted communications.

The policy states that city employees “will communicate truthfully and accurately, strive to avoid misunderstandings, and correct errors of fact as they become known.”

Following a 53-minute closed session, the Council voted to authorize Mayor Rick Hall to begin negotiations with the Liberty Hill Development Foundation for the purchase of Lions Foundation Park on Loop 332.

Although there was no public discussion among Council members Monday, members of the Foundation Board have been talking with Mayor Hall and other city officials for some time about the possibility of transferring ownership of the privately-held park to the City.

However, no offer has been made public since a previous Economic Development Board and a previous council spent almost two years engaged in negotiations, which ended in March 2016. The Foundation Board left open the possibility of future talks.

Also following the executive session Monday, the Council took no action after private consultation with their attorney who was set to “advise Council regarding former City Secretary Barbara Zwernemann”.

Zwernemann was terminated by the Council on May 25 for “failure to maintain the City’s records accurately and in a manner required by state law and city code.”

The Council voted unanimously, with Tony DeYoung absent, to make changes to committee assignments of Council members Kathy Canady and Steve McIntosh.

Canady was removed from the Planning & Zoning Commission and appointed to Parks & Recreation Board. She replaced McIntosh on the Parks Board and he was appointed to Planning & Zoning.

There was no discussion on the matter or an explanation for the change.

In February, members of the Parks Board complained about McIntosh’s behavior at a meeting in which he privately reprimanded Liz Branigan and MaryLyn Jones for disagreeing with him during the public meeting.

In other business Monday, the Council, without discussion:
– Approved the final plat for Wildleaf Phase 4
– Approved final plat for Stonewall Ranch North – Section 9
– Approved a Professional Services Agreement between consultant Matt Powell and the Economic Development Corp. for $3,500 per month plus reimbursement for travel and expenses, for a minimum 15 hours per week. Powell will be acting as Interim Executive Director.
– Approved a $5,000 donation to Opportunities for Williamson & Burnet Counties to support the organization’s efforts to provide service to elderly residents.
– Approved the removal of Zwernemann from the City’s band and investment accounts signature cards and add Nancy Sawyer, who was named City Secretary on May 25.
– Approved an additional homestead exemption from ad valorem taxes of 1% of the appraised value with a minimum exemption of $5,000. Previously, the exemption was $3,000.

The Council also approved a change order for the Downtown Street and Utility Program in the amount of $59,744.64. The increased costs reflects an error in the calculation of the area of concrete and removal of some existing concrete.

Another change order was approved for the South Fork Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion contract with Cunningham Constructors & Associates in the amount of $75,511.40 reflecting changes in equipment costs and increased water flow.

Mayor Hall said he spoke with County officials who said some bond funds might be available to help pay for the extension of Stonewall Parkway across SH 29 to intersect with Liberty Way in the Liberty Parke development.

The Council unanimously approved Task Order SB 020-58 for $129,000 to pay for the design and construction services associated with the project.

The proposal to extend the road was brought to Council by McIntosh, a resident of Liberty Parke.

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