WU Council Poised to Make Big Changes On Monday

June 20, 2015

The West U City Council will meet in an executive session Monday at 6 p.m., to discus a “separation agreement” with veteran City Manager Michael Ross.

The closed meeting will be followed at 6:30 p.m. by a regular council meeting where the new members of the council will consider taking action on Ross’ retirement package, as well as the appointment of an Interim City Manager and the hiring of a search firm to look for a new City Manager.

The council, which took office on June 1, has not publicly discussed why they want Ross, who has been the City Manager of West University Place for 14 years, to step down.

In a contentious special meeting last week, the council repeatedly rebuffed Mayor Susan Sample’s request for a discussion of their reasons for asking Ross to retire or resign. Councilmembers Brennan Reilly and Burt Ballanfant, before taking office, met privately with Ross and discussed a buyout of $300,000 of his employment agreement with the city.

The council’s agenda indicates that Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Chris Peiffer will be asked to serve as Interim City Manager, since it includes an item for the naming of a new Public Works Director.

The agenda also includes the consideration advertising for the hiring of an executive search firm, to recruit candidates for a new City Manager.

The new council, which also includes Councilmembers Bob Kelly and Mardi Turner, ran as a slate in opposition to the city’s long-term Master Plan for Municipal Facilities.

That controversial plan included discussions of a land swap with the West University Baptist Church, which wants to build a new Youth Center near its church building in central West U.

The church terminated real estate negotiations with the city, just days after the municipal election. Still, the previous city council “endorsed” the facilities master plan and left it up to the new council for consideration.

The slate had objected to a lack of “transparency” and citizen involvement during those real estate negotiations.

The council will consider the appointment of a City Facilities Master Plan Task Force, “to review and recommend changes to the city’s Long-Range Facilities Master Plan.”

The council also will hear the Annual Financial Report from City Finance Director Rhonda Daugherty, and will consider the city’s investment policies.

The council also appears ready to make other changes.

The council will consider “the review and amendment of the Council Rules of Procedure,” and “the procedure and content of City staff reports to Council, including public disclosure of reports.”

The council also is scheduled to consider the first reading of an ordinance amending the city Code of Ordinance, which relates to boarding animals being treated at Veterinary Facilities.

The council also is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 24, for a workshop session for orientation for new council members and the priorities of the council.