Council urged to ‘communicate’

Agenda wording triggers questions; MDD executive director position okayed
Reporter Editor

Recycling container will be placed at Mill and Hickory, across the street from Project Head Start, east of water tower. Recycling container will be placed at Mill and Hickory, across the street from Project Head Start, east of water tower. The Rockdale City Council heard some criticism about the way it operates Monday night.

That’s not unusual, but the source was. It came from a council member.

“I feel like we don’t communicate among ourselves,” Councilman Allan Miller said. “I feel like I’m almost looked down on if I communicate with anyone outside of meetings.”

Miller’s comments came during discussion of a possible evaluation of City Manager Kelvin Knauf, during which the west ward councilman challenged the way that item was listed on the agenda, partly as an executive session “to discuss the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of the city manager.”

“I hadn’t anticipated any decision whatsoever,” Miller said. “I just wanted to have a frank discussion.”

Also during the meeting, on a split vote, the council approved a $150,000 expenditure package allowing the Rockdale Municipal Development District to create the position of executive director.

And the council approved creation of the city’s first recycling center, to be placed at the corner of Mill and Hickory.

EVALUATION—Miller and Councilwoman Toby Johnson had wanted the evaluation placed on the agenda, noting that Knauf has not been evaluated in the 2-1/2 years he has been city manager.

But Miller said that would be difficult “since we haven’t given him any direction. He doesn’t know what our expectations are.”

Both Miller and Johnson mentioned the Rockdale ISD recently conducted an evaluation of Supt. Dr. Howell Wright.

Miller, who brought a copy of the RISD’s Jan. 26 agenda to Monday’s meeting, said the school item only listed “Annual Superintendent’s Performance Evaluation, Contract and Salary Review” as the item.

Mayor Larry Jones told Miller that the school district agenda cited Texas Government Code Section 551.0- 74, the same passage cited by the city, but the city’s agenda spells out the wording from that law.

City Attorney Michelle Lehmkuhl, who is also a school board member, said the language “keeps you out of trouble.”

Lehmkuhl pointed out state law requires an annual evaluation of a superintendent but there is no such statute pertaining to a city manager.

Councilman Willie Phillips recalled that an evaluation instrument was prepared for former City Manager T. Flemming “ but he got sick and it was never done.”

The council agreed to put together an evaluation form, using the school’s form and other sources, and to proceed with the city manager evaluation concept.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR— The council approved an MDD executive package, not to exceed $150,00, as presented by Gary Griesbach, president of the MDD board.

He said the total includes $96,000 in salary and benefits for the executive director, funding for a part-time, hourly/no benefit assistant position and funds for an office.

Griesbach said the MDD board has selected a finalist from a lengthy process involving 12 applicants and has offered him the job, pending council approval of the expenditures.

The position will be funded through sales tax collected by the MDD, not from the city’s general fund.

“ We’re not hiring someone who is learning,” Griesbach said. “We’re hiring someone who knows what to do and has done it.”

Council members told Griesbach their goal for the MDD executive director remains to bring jobs and businesses to Rockdale.

The vote to approve was 5-1 with Miller, Johnson, Doug Calame, Joyce Dalley and Melody Dawson voting in favor and Phillips against.

RECYCLING—The council approved Knauf’s recommendation that the city’s first recycling container be placed on countyowned land at the corner of Mill and Hickory.

Knauf said new solid waste contractor IESI promised to provide a recycling container and pickup in its contract with the city.

The council discussed whether to fence off the container to prevent vandalism and dumping of non-recyclables.

Johnson said she preferred it be available on a 24/7 basis, at least for a trial period.

In other business, the council:

• Okayed re-plat requests to facilitate the proposed Hunters Chase apartment complex on East Belton.

• Accepted the park board’s “Adopt A Park” program plans.

• Called for bids for proposals to buy treated effluent from the city’s wastewater plant. Knauf said the city had received an inquiry from a firm offering to purchase the effluent, quoting a figure which might add up to as much as $232,000 per year.

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