February 12th, 2014 Minutes

Click Here for print friendly version

City of Alpine
Regular City Council Meeting
February 12th, 2014
6:00 P.M.
Minutes

1. Call to Order, Invocation and Pledge of allegiance to the flag – Mayor
Rangra called the City Council meeting to order.

2. Determination of a quorum and proof of notice of the meeting – There was
a quorum present. Mayor Rangra, Councilors Bermudez,
Davidson, Fitzgerald, Gonzales and Castelli were present. The City
Secretary said the notice had been posted at 5:00 P.M. on February 7th,
2014. City Manager Zimmer, City Attorney William “Mick” McKamie (by
teleprompter) and City Secretary Taylor were also present.

3. Presentations, recognitions and proclamations – None
4. Reports –
City Mayor’s Report –
City Attorney Report –

City Manager Report –
City Staff Updates –
5. Citizens Comments (on agenda items) –
Judge Schlosser – said she wanted to speak on the item placed on the
agenda by your city manager, #10. She said she did inform the City
Manager that her second term would be ending in March of 2014 and that it
was time to renew. She said typically when we renew it goes on the agenda
and the council votes. She said her comment about this item is that you
really don’t have an opening until you vote and if you don’t vote she is
automatically renewed. She said her suggestion to the council is to put off
posting any job until you know if you are going to have an opening or not.
She said she is in the process of preparing a report to come to council. She
said it is not ready today and she would like the council to have that when
the council reviews her because they have been doing a lot of really great
things over in the court and they went online with credit card payments
today. She said they had their first payment online today. She said in the
next few days there will be a link on the Alpine Web Page showing that
online payments and credit card payments are available both by phone at a
1-800 number and also online. Mayor Rangra asked if Mayor Schlosser was
talking about item 10. Judge Schlosser said yes, she was talking about
item 10. Mayor Rangra said this does not have anything about what you are
talking about. Judge Schlosser said she was suggesting that the Council
might want to put this item off because there are a lot of things that she
would like to report to the Council on and she gave one example and it is
really premature to vote on advertising a position that there is no opening
for. She said she does realize that you will want to and she did suggest to
Mr. Zimmer that the council might not want to wait until March, if the
council is not going to renew her, to advertise because you do not want to
have a vacancy there. She said it will automatically renew her if you have
not voted by then. She said what really needs to go on the agenda is a
renewal. Mayor Rangra said he hates to interfere but this is not about
Judge Schlosser or anybody but we just authorize the city manager to
advertise for the position. Mayor Rangra said it is not about Judge
Schlosser. Judge Schlosser said she was sorry but it was about her. Mayor
Rangra said we need to stick to the item. Judge Schlosser said she was
sticking to the item and it was relevant. Mayor Rangra said he had to stick
to the wording. Judge Schlosser said she assured him that it was within
the purview of this item because it is frankly illegal for you to advertise a
position that is not open or that is not going to be open and you do not
know if it is going to be open until you vote. She said she is suggesting to
the Council that you might want to put that on before you vote on this.

6. Public Hearings – None
7. Consent Agenda – (Minutes, Financial reports, Department Written
Reports, board appointments, etc.) – None

8. Information or Discussion items – None

Action Items to be accompanied by a brief statement of facts, including
where funds are coming from, if applicable. (Action items limited to 15 per
meeting.) –
9. Discuss and Consider approving the first reading of Ordinance 2014-02-01,
an Ordinance of the City Council, of the City of Alpine, Texas amending the
FY 2013-2014 Budget for the City of Alpine, Texas. (E. Zimmer, CM) – City
Manager Zimmer said with regards to our last Council meeting on February
4th, we reviewed the budget at that time with our revisions and from the
public we received a valuable comment that discussed going through the
ordinance process as indicated by our charter so we set up this meeting to
basically to have the first reading of the ordinance. He said those have
been provided to the council, the ordinance along with all of the revisions
that were in the council’s packet. He said we have also provided copies to
website as well. He said if the council would like he could read the
ordinance so it would be read into record from this meeting. Councilor
Fitzgerald asked if we actually had to read the ordinance. He asked Mick,
the City Attorney if reading it was necessary. Mick McKamie, the City
Attorney (who was present by teleprompter) said reading the caption of the
ordinance was sufficient. City Manager Zimmer said Ordinance 2014-02-01,
amending Fiscal Year 2013/2014 Budget for the City of Alpine, Texas. He
said it was an Ordinance of the City Council of the City Council of the City
of Alpine, Texas amending the Fiscal year 2013/2014 Budget for the City of
Alpine, Texas. Motion was made by Councilor Davidson, by Resolution
2014-02-07, to approve the first reading of the Ordinance. Motion was
seconded by Councilor Bermudez. There was no discussion from the
audience on the amendment. Motion carried unanimously.
10. Discuss and Consider authorizing the City Manager to advertise for the
position of Municipal Judge for the City of Alpine. (E. Zimmer, CM) – City
Manager Zimmer said the reason for the item on the agenda is because as
we were putting together the agenda, for this special meeting, there was
some discussion between the city secretary and himself on the term as it
related to our existing Municipal Judge and whether it expired in March of
2014 or as the charter indicates, the Judge’s term would run consecutive
with the term of the Mayor. He said with that being said, last fall the Council
had requested the Interim City Manager who was Molly Taylor at the time,
to advertise for the City Attorney position when there was an opening. He
said his thought on putting this on the agenda was to ask the Council
whether they wanted the City manager to post this position in the
newspaper and post it publically, reading specifically in the charter, 4.05 –
c, it indicates that the Mayor would nominate and the Council would
approve the Municipal Judge for a two year term to run consecutively with
the Mayor. He said the charter does not specifically outline how the
advertising is to take place or how those nominations would come forward
so merely here, he is just suggesting that if the Council would like the City
Manager to advertise for this position, we certainly would do so on behalf
of the Mayor and the Council. He said that is the reason for this item. Mayor
Rangra asked the Council if they had any questions. Councilor Fitzgerald
said he could appreciate the City Manager trying to pro act on this so that
we don’t have a gap in who is Municipal Judge but he can see Judge
Schlosser’s point too. He said it could be a little bit “the cart before the
horse”. He said maybe we ought to just keep her on the agenda and
evaluate her and then if there is one we still have time between now and
then if we don’t vote to keep her, we still have time until the end of her term
to advertise. He said she makes a good point that there is no opening.
Mayor Rangra asked what the charter said. The City Manager said the
Charter states that the Mayor nominates and the Council approves for a
two year term to run consecutive with the Mayor’s term. Mayor Rangra said
that would mean that May, 2014 of this year, after the election, the Mayor
will nominate. City Manager Zimmer said it does not state whether it is
done prior to or post election but in talking with Barbara with Mick
McKamie’s office, she had indicated that it is important that the Council
just be consistent on this. He said he also spoke about this with Mick
McKamie as well. He said if you are nominating and then approving prior to
a new Mayor going in then you would keep consistent on that or if you
were waiting until a new Mayor came in and did it afterwards, that you kept
consistent every two years. He said he did not know if Mick would like to
make any further statement on that. Mick McKamie, City Attorney said he
thought you could nominate and approve the term of appointment on either
side of the term of office date and that does not change the date of the term
of office. He said for instance, if it is concurrent with the Mayor’s term, that
date would be the start of the term of office regardless of when the position
was filled, because at the end of the term there is a vacancy. He said it
could be filled on an interim basis, of course, but he thinks the council
should just adopt a policy. He said the council may have some other
appointments as well that are Mayoral appointments approved by the
Council that have similar issues. He said it is just a matter of being
consistent. Mayor Rangra asked when this appointment started. The City
Manager said Judge Schlosser’s current appointment started in March of
2012. Mayor Rangra said the Mayor comes in, in May. The City Manager
said the Mayor comes in, in May. Mayor Rangra said the new Mayor. The
City Manager said correct. Mayor Rangra said the question is that this
would only be for March and April and May until the Mayor appoints one or
nominates one? The City Manager said if you don’t and you take no action
on it, then you would basically reappoint Judge Schlosser. He said he is
not the lawyer in this and Mick would answer the question more than him
but in May of 2012, with no action, because there was no further action
basically saying that Judge Schlosser was appointed through May of 2014.
He said you were two months off cycle in March of 2012. Councilor
Bermudez said at their meeting that they just came back from this
weekend, they were talking about the Municipal Judge who is over the
court. She said they asked the question because they were kind of
confused. She said they told them if there is a vacancy which is what there
was when Judge Schlosser came in, before the election in May, from that
March to May, she is allowed to stay and then if there is no vote to keep her
or not, she is automatically in, but if there is a nomination and vote, he or
she may or may not be appointed. She said the Mayor has the power to
nominate and then the council approves and appoints. She said in other
words, they told the instructors at the meeting that there was going to be a
council meeting where we might advertise for the position. She said you
can do that. She said the Judge could send in her resume for this position.
Councilor Gonzales said that is what he heard too. Councilor Bermudez
said that is exactly what the City Manager was saying right now. City
Manager Zimmer said he was also thinking that the period of time in hiring
of the City Manager and the period of time of hiring of the City Attorney
was approximately three months for the City Manager and the City Attorney
was approximately three and one half months and so if the Council was
going to take any action proactively they would want to start considering at
this point. He said as far as Judge Schlosser, he was not making any sort
of any negative connotation towards her but what he would tell the council
was that our court session in January, the docket, went very well. He said it
has nothing to do with how the court is running. He said he was just trying
to give the council the opportunity to say as we are working to get
everything back in alignment, here is an item to consider. He said he was
also not going to take this to the council or to the Mayor individually. He
said he felt like it would be healthy to discuss this in a session like this and
that was why he put it on the agenda. Councilor Gonzales said he was
reading 4.05 – c and it talks about compensation. He said his
understanding is that now we have a different system that is going to
require a lawyer to be the Municipal Judge and asked if that was correct.
The City Manager said because we are a court of record, yes, it does have
to be an attorney, as the Municipal Judge. Councilor Gonzales asked if the
City Manager was also going to advertise how much compensation
would be offered. The City Manager said he would not make that
determination. He said that would be determined by the Council as to the
level of compensation. He said you can always put commensurate with
expectations and experience and that leaves it very open. Councilor
Bermudez said one of the things that she was wanting to put on the next
agenda. She said it was one of the things they learned. She said they were
told that small cities do not really need a court of record. She said it costs
money to have a court of record. She said they were told that big cities do
need one. She said she was thinking that maybe we could bring this back
to the council to reverse this court of record ordinance. She said then we
would not need a lawyer to be Municipal Judge. The City Manager said that
would impact the advertising. Councilor Davidson was laughing and said
he thought it was funny to have a Municipal Judge who is not an attorney.
Councilor Gonzales said we have had one before. Councilor Fitzgerald said
the last one was Judge Blackley. It was mentioned that the Judge before
that one was not an attorney. Mayor Rangra said Judge Schlosser stated
that “there is no vacancy”. He said he wanted to pursue that. He said if
there is not a vacancy there is no need to advertise. He said the question is
when you read the charter it says that it starts with the Mayor’s term. He
asked when the vacancy took place. The City Manager said the charter
states that the Mayor would nominate and the Council would approve to
run a term consecutively with the Mayor. He said so reading that, knowing
that the Mayors term starts in the even numbered years, in May of the even
numbered years (he asked Mick to correct him if he was wrong), but it
would be safe to say that the term for the Municipal Judge would run in
May of 2014 to May of 2016. Mayor Rangra said when Councilor Bermudez
and Gonzales were at the meeting, and they told the instructors that our
Municipal Judge was appointed in March and no action is taken, it will
automatically renew the Judge for two years, which would be March of
2016. The City Manager said what he would explain as far as is there a
vacancy or not, he has not been a City Manager up until this point. He said
he has never been a Municipal Judge but he has worked in organizations
where he has had to reapply for a job every year to three years and so
depending on the requirements of the organization it is not uncommon for
people to reapply for positions. He said he is not stating that is what our
charter in Alpine says. He said our charter says that the Municipal Judge is
nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council to run at a term
consecutive with the Mayor’s term. Councilor Davidson said to clarify this
in his mind, what he is hearing is that although the City Charter of the City
of Alpine is not the highest law of the land and does not supersede other
laws but what he has seen is that in March of 2010 the City Council
interviewed any number of people and whether any of those people there
knew it or not, what they were doing was indeed hiring a municipal judge to
serve the unfilled term of the previous one that had resigned. He said
whether that was on the agenda and they knew it or not. He asked the City
Attorney if that was right since we had a charter that dictated how this
works. He said what the city did, was to hire a municipal judge to serve out
the remainder of that term and then therefore by not taking any further
steps defacto appointed the standing judge for the two year term that
began in May of 2010. Mick said he would be happy to research that issue.
He said he had not researched the appointment dates or anything like that
but he can tell the council that both the Charter and the City Ordinance that
created a court of record specified two year terms and that means two
years. He said there is of course a hold over provision in the State
Constitution that an officer serves as a holdover until their successor is
appointed and qualified to fill the position but nonetheless the term expires
after two years. He said you are correct that there are some higher laws
than the City Charter but not many. He said state statutes are not unless
they clearly indicate so. He said the home rule city charter is on the same
level of dignity as a state law. He said in this case there is a general statute
for cities to use to create a Municipal Court of Record. He said it prescribes
that you have to create a two or four year term. He said in our ordinance
created a two year term for a court of record. He said the rest of the
provisions in the city ordinance are similar to the state law. He said there is
no conflict with the state law so he believes that the charter provisions
apply and you can read in harmony, the state law and the city charter so
that the two year term is concurrent with that of the Mayor. He said when
that is used in the City Charter that means the regular office of Mayor. He
said so that if the Mayor is elected according to the Charter in even
numbered years, that would also serve as the period of the term for the
Judge. He said it would be most appropriate for there to be a

 reappointment every two years because the term expires. He said if there
were an appointment in March, which he believed they just referred to, then
it would be an interim appointment until the May term began, the May two
year term under the city charter and then it would continue for two years.
He said if no new appointment is made at the end of the two years than that
judge or officer would continue to perform the duties of the job but would
be beyond their term of office. He said there will be a vacancy, under the
terms of the charter at the end of the two year term, whenever that is. He
said in this case he believes the charter makes it very clear that the end of
the two year term will be when the new Mayor’s term begins. He said he
thinks it would be most appropriate to reappoint or appoint a new officer,
whatever the council’s wish is, at that time. He said and again, an
appointment in this case, out of the charter, is by the Mayor with the
approval by the Council. He said he did not know if he had answered that
question adequately but that is what he thinks. He said he has not seen the
original appointment dates, but in general that is the way it works.
Councilor Fitzgerald said when he came on the Council the first time, after
Gerald Raun died, he fulfilled the rest of his first term, but that did not alter
the election cycle of Ward 3 council race. He said the election was always
in May. Councilor Bermudez said right now the Council does not have
anything to do with it. She asked the Mayor if he was going to appoint or
bring someone before us. Mayor Rangra said the election is coming and we
do not know what will happen in the Mayor election. He asked if we could
just go ahead and not take any action on this item. Mick said it was up to
the Council. He said it was like any other agenda item. He said the City
Manager put this on the agenda for the Council’s information. Mayor said if
we do not take any action on this item then the new Mayor in May still has
the flexibility to nominate a new person or re-nominate the current judge.
Mick said that was the way the charter reads. The Mayor said the reason
the City Manager has this item on the agenda is so that there is a list of
candidates for the new Mayor in May. He asked if that is why the City
Manager put this item on the agenda. The City Manager said he put this
item on the agenda for two reasons. He said number one was so that we
would have this discussion. He said so we walk out of this room with
clarity. He said he feels good that we have had a healthy discussion. He
said number two was based on the outcome of the discussion if there was
a need to advertise, which he is not feeling like, based on this discussion
there is, that would have been part two. He said most importantly it was to
have this discussion in an open council meeting and not people thinking or
having some idea of what needs to happen. He said we have the attorney,
all the council, the mayor and the city manager and the standing municipal
judge is here. He said he thinks it has been a healthy and transparent
discussion. He said he thinks it is important for the Judge too to have this
dialogue and understand this. Councilor Gonzales asked if there was a
time period after the Mayor has been elected that we need to do this. Mick
said not really. He said you know this is a pretty common issue in all home
rule cities where you have these kinds of terms that come up when the new
mayor comes on board. He said it is just a matter of custom. He said your
officers are appointed in the way that the municipal court judge would be
here, would hold over until their successor is appointed and qualified. He
said it is just a matter of as soon as you feel comfortable doing that. He
said some cities do it for the first meeting after the new Mayor is sworn in.
He said some do it in different ways. He said it is up to the council to set
that policy. Councilor Gonzales said he is referring to the time when it
becomes automatic and she or he becomes the Municipal Judge if they
chose not to do anything. Mick said there is no automatic reappointment
when there is a definite term of office. He said the term is two years,
clearly, under the charter and under the ordinance. He said it expires at the
end of two years. He said there must be a reappointment for another two
year term. He said it is not a continuing appointment. Mayor Rangra asked
if we needed to reappoint, again going back and rehashing it. He said this
term is over, as he is saying, and the two year appointment started in
March of 2012. Mayor Rangra said it is over in March of 2014. He asked if
we needed to reappoint in March of 2014 to fill the incomplete term or just
leave it at that and let the new Mayor worry about it. Mick said he thought it
was pointed out earlier that from March until May of 2012, it was an interim
appointment, because it was not concurrent with the Mayor’s term. He said
there would be a need for a reappointment when the new Mayor’s term
starts in May of 2014. Mayor Rangra asked if everyone understood. Motion
was made by Councilor Fitzgerald to table this item. Motion was seconded
by Councilor Bermudez. Dale Christopherson said he was very interested
in the discussion that we had. Judge Schlosser said she researched this
issue when the Mayor brought it up the last time he and she spoke about it.
She said with all due respect a term is a term and the state statutes can
conflict with the charter. She said in this case the term begins the day she
takes office. She said she was voted in to a term in March of 2010 and it
expired two years later, it was renewed and that one will expire in March of
2014. She said every bit of research that she has, and she has a whole
folder on it, indicates that she needs to be reappointed in March of 2014 or
she will have a two year term. She said the council is getting two different
legal opinions. She said she did research this thoroughly when the Mayor
asked her about it six months or a year ago. She said the council might
want to take a look at the case law and might want to take a look at what
has been written out there. She said she thinks there is a way to reconcile
your conflict with your charter and the statute which says the term begins
when you are appointed and it runs for two years. She said that would
mean that you would probably need to rewrite the charter to say that when
the term begins the Mayor will nominate and the Council will vote on it. She
said the issue is when does the term begin and that is a legal definition.
She said in all of the Municipal Court Records and cases that she has
pulled off Municipal Education for education site and all the cases she has
pulled indicate that you cannot contravene with that two year statute. She
said since the statute says it has to be two or four years then you get
appointed and it goes to the end of that two years. She said that is the
interpretation that the Municipal Court Education Center has taken and they
have spoken out on it verbally and in writing. She said she does not want
there to be any confusion when it comes up in May. She said her position
will be that she was renewed in March. She said the opportunity occurs in
March and not in May. She said maybe you should get something in writing
from the Attorney and she will be glad to forward to Mr. Zimmer all of the
cases and opinions on this issue but it looks as if your charter is in direct
conflict with the statute which says that terms last two years. She said there
is no interim term in the statute. She said there is nothing to allow an
interim term. She said her interpretation of the statute is that every two
years from the time that she is appointed to the end of that two year period
you need to appoint her and here is the danger. She said if you do not
reappoint her in March and you let it sit until May what could happen is with
all the cases that are decided between March and May, someone could
come in and say you have no authorized sitting judge at that time and they
could have all of that set aside. She said she has to tell the Council that the
March docket looks like they are going to have several thousand cases on it
and she would hate to redo them because they are going back on the
docket and picking up 5,000 pending cases that have been left and
mismanaged by the prior judge and the prior clerks. She said they are going
to get all of those cases taken care of and closed in the next couple of
months. She said she did about 300 of them today and put them in the
system and they are going to be heard at the March docket. She said by the
time the March docket occurs they will probably have a couple of thousand
cases on that docket. She said her concern is that if she is correct and your
attorney is wrong and you don’t appoint her in March what could happen is
that she could be sitting there until May and things could be happening and
you would have no legal judge presiding and that is her concern. She said
she is not worried about the council doing the right thing but she is really
worried about that interpretation. She said of course someone would have
to raise it and she will not do it. She said she will wait until May and do
whatever they wish. She said her concern is that someone will say that you
do not have a legal sitting judge. She said she thinks a written opinion on
this would be advisable. Mayor Rangra said the Council is constantly told
that they need to listen to their lawyer and he is sure that the new Mayor will
keep that in mind. He said you have heard the comments from Judge
Schlosser and he is sure that he will do some research on that and help the
new Mayor whoever he or she will be. Motion carried unanimously.

11. Citizens Comments (limit 3 minutes) – none
12. Council Member’s Comments and Answers – none
13. Executive Session – none
14. Action – Executive Session – none
15. Adjournment – Meeting was adjourned upon the motion of Councilor
Davidson and seconded by Councilor Fitzgerald. Motion carried
unanimously and meeting was adjourned.

I certify that this notice was posted at 5:00 P.M. on February 7th, 2014, pursuant to Texas
Open Meetings Act. (Texas Vernon’s Annotated Civil statutes, section 551.043 Texas Government
Code.) This facility is wheelchair accessible and accessible parking space is available. Requests for
accommodations or interpretive services must be made 48 hours prior to this meeting. Please
Contact the city secretary’s office at (432) 837-3301 or fax (432) 837-2044 for further information.
_________________________________________________
Dr. Avinash Rangra, Mayor
Attest:
_______________________________
Margaret “Molly” Taylor, City Secretary
I, Margaret “Molly’ Taylor, City Secretary, do certify that this notice was posted at 5:00 P.M on February
7th, 2014, and remained so posted continuously for at least 72 hours preceding the scheduled time of
said meeting.
Margaret “Molly” Taylor, City Secretary

Comment is closed.

Menu Title