The Argyle Town Council voted last month to repeal a resolution related to the mayor’s power when it comes to economic development.
The resolution in question was created by Mayor Bryan Livingston and approved by council last summer. It “formalized the role and accountability of the office of the mayor in development matters,” Livingston said during the council meeting.
Livingston said that in the past, elected officials had not been involved early enough in the recruitment/development process, and it was hurting the town.
“Before the election of 2017 … a number of development proposals were brought before the town before the townspeople had an opportunity to participate, or even the Town Council had a chance to weigh in until after the development approval clock had started ticking,” Livingston said. “It was obvious that there was not enough attention being paid to the people … to provide for adequate oversight and adequate coordination between the town’s governing bodies and the people and the mayor.
“I hope we can all agree that it’s a good thing for the mayor to be more embedded in the process of development with the MDD, with the Town Council, and keeping tight oversight over the staff, which was the purpose of the resolution.”
Livingston also pointed to the the “failed” annexation of the Argyle Crossing development, located in the town’s ETJ. Livingston said leadership at the time tried to “work outside of the Town Council’s authority and jurisdiction and to compel annexation under terms that were favorable to the councilman and mayor.”
“Ultimately the effort to get 1-acre minimums on that property failed, the effort to compel 1-acre minimums by withholding wastewater service failed, and we ended up with a loss of a potential annexation that would have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue and ad valorem revenue,” Livingston said. “If this resolution had been in effect then, the mayor at that time would have been compelled to bring this before the Town Council and there would have been a public airing of that annexation opportunity.”
The resolution stated that the mayor and staff would collaboratively handle several specific responsibilities, including communicating the priorities of the Argyle Comprehensive Plan to developers, attend Municipal Development District meetings, promote joint approaches to Argyle’s development priorities with leaders of nearby and overlapping jurisdictions, ensuring progress on bringing the town’s code into alignment with the Comp Plan, and generally support the development and oversight functions of the council and MDD.
Councilman Rick Bradford requested that rescinding the resolution be added to the council agenda.
All council members but Sherri Myers voted to repeal the resolution. Myers asked why they were repealing a resolution that was passed unanimously by council less than a year ago, and initially, Bradford said it was simply because the resolution was “redundant.”
“It doesn’t change the powers of the mayor,” Bradford said. “He already has the power to do (what the resolution stated).”
However, after a bit more discussion, Bradford began to elaborate on why he wanted to rescind the resolution.
“I don’t feel that these duties have been honored, as far as reporting back to the council,” Bradford said as Councilman Ron Schmidt agreed. “I have lost complete faith in the mayor, and I will just say it flat out, I don’t believe that you should have any powers not already instituted in the mayoral position by the state.”
Livingston said rescinding the resolution was a “meaningless action.”
“It does nothing for the town. It’s a waste of the townspeople’s time to have to watch this, as admitted by Councilmember Bradford,” he said. “So since it’s meaningless, it can only be seen as part of the vendetta against me and the town administrator.”
Council members also pointed out that the agenda packet was not made available to the public until that morning, not the previous week like it was supposed to be.
After further “discussion,” which was mostly just Schmidt and Bradford arguing with Livingston, Myers called it all a “really bad look for our council. I’m disappointed.”
Earlier in the meeting, the council briefly discussed wanting to to compose a Code of Conduct that the agenda says “would assist Council in the conduct of meetings, interactions with each other, staff, etc.”
“The resolution that was rescinded was put in place (by me) to formalize a process and encourage teamwork with the staff, council and Municipal Development District in development matters,” said Livingston in a statement to The Cross Timbers Gazette. “It did not give additional powers to the office of the mayor. Instead it clarified the reporting and coordination role of the mayor. Unfortunately certain members of the Municipal Development District board, who are also council members, were unwilling to allow me to fully participate in MDD meetings – I was excluded from executive sessions. So the resolution was not being followed. Rescinding the resolution did not remove any powers of the mayor’s office.”