A pair of ordinance updates meant to limit the powers of Wimberley’s mayor, while strengthening the role of the city administrator, were both approved on a split 3-2 vote Jan. 3.
The move came after months of heated dispute among city council members and Mayor Susan Jaggers, which eventually led to the resignation of council member Patricia Kelly in December 2018.
Wimberley, which was incorporated in the 1970s, is a general law city which, according to state laws, is operated by a city administrator. However, the approved ordinance update recognizes Wimberley’s mayor as the head of the city for ceremonial purposes, as well as the role of overseeing city council meetings, but has no administrative duties in the city.
In previous city council meetings, Jaggers has occasionally challenged city council votes while trying to expand her administrative duties.
The resulting fallout led to Kelly’s resignation, when she said she could no longer work with Jaggers.
In addition, city leaders further clarified the role and powers of the city administrator.
Clarifications include removing “the mayor” from a significant portion of the ordinance’s language in regard to the city administrator’s consultation with the city council. That includes removing the mayor from adopting measures that “may be deemed necessary or expedient for the health, safety or welfare of the city and for the municipal services.”
According to agenda documents, the purpose of the ordinance change was to “enhance the effectiveness and efficiencies of the Office of the City Administrator and the operations of the City of Wimberley.”
But both items received pushback, specifically from council members Mike McCullough and Gary Barchfeld. Both stated on numerous occasions that they did not feel comfortable voting on the items since Jaggers was not present at the meeting.
“That’s the difference between saying ‘the mayor and the council,’” Council member Craig Fore said. “She is part of the council…and I’m not writing anybody out. I’m just telling the difference between what’s there and what should be there. It’s not about the mayor, it’s about the city administrator.”
Fore said the language in the governance policy should refer to the body as “the council,” which helps distinguish the roles with a little more clarity.
“People do run for mayor and they generally understand the role that (the position) is,” Council member Allison Davis said. “It’s a ceremonial role, the mayor runs meetings and is not the administrator, and what we do need is this clarity.”
Davis called the action to amend the ordinance and governance policy diplomatic. She said the mayor is part of the council but does have a role contrary to that of the city administrator.
Kelly’s crucial votes before farewell
Despite resigning Dec. 6, Kelly was not officially voted off the dais until the end of the Jan. 3 meeting.
That gave Kelly the opportunity to be the swing vote on key issues during the meeting, including ordinance updates pertaining to Jagger’s role in the city. City council members voted unanimously to accept Kelly’s resignation. Kelly recommended former Mayor Steve Thurber as a possible replacement.
The Wimberley City Council will appoint a new council member, which will be submitted for approval in the future.
The timeline is unknown on the appointment.