By Sean Batura at the Kerrville Daily Times, Dec. 14, 2020
Ingram Mayor Kathy Rider said Monday that another councilmember may be planning to resign.
John St. Clair, part of the faction that included Brandon Rowan and Shirley Trees, both of whom resigned last week from the council, may soon step down, Rider hinted at Monday’s meeting of the Kerr County Commissioners Court.
“My understanding is we’re fixing to have another council person resign,” Rider said. “He has not resigned yet but my understanding is this is coming.”
St. Clair hadn’t returned a phone call as of this writing.
Rider was at Monday’s meeting to brief the Commissioners Court on recent chaos in Ingram, where all eight employees at the Ingram Police Department — including the police chief — also resigned over the last two weeks. Some of the employees at the police department will be working until later this month and early next month, however. A new police chief was appointed last week, along with Rider as mayor.
Rider spoke to commissioners about the reasons for the mass resignations at city hall. She alluded to “grudges” and “hurt feelings.”
“Ingram goes through cycles of things like this every few years,” Rider said. “Things blow up and happen and you gotta just kind of repair them and move forward. Ingram’s been having some real growing pains in the last 10 years, and people don’t like change. And ultimately that was the root cause of all the infighting and the hurt feelings and this and that. The implementation of the wastewater system has been rough at times.”
Rider said she wanted to dispel rumors that helped fuel some of the recent political chaos in Ingram.
“The rumor is so rampant that the newly elected city council is going to disband the City of Ingram and unincorporate, and that is absolutely not the case,” Rider said.
Some in the new faction in power have been involved in an effort years ago to have the matter of disincorporation placed on a ballot.
Rider also took aim at the rumor the new faction in power at city hall wanted to defund or disband the police department.
“We are operating in a deficit budget and have been for a couple [of] years,” Rider said. “Our goal is to no longer be running in the red and get back to a balanced budget … responsible spending is not defunding … defunding is a political movement and that’s not what this is.”
Rider said the years-long litigation over the city’s disputed wastewater ordinances is ongoing but she hopes it’s resolved soon. The litigation has cost the city well over $100,000, with parties on both sides accusing the other of wasting taxpayer dollars.
Some of the litigants are property owners who have objected to the minimum $5,000 in connection fees for nonresidential properties and the requirement to connect once a sewer line becomes available, claiming the city gave preferential treatment to politically connected people in letting them hook up for free or forestall connecting.
An attorney for the city, in response, has said some of these owners have been engaging in conspiracy theories and the vast majority of property owners have been compliant.
In previous litigation involving a property owner fighting the ordinances, the city was defeated in municipal court by acquittal and paid thousands of dollars to settle in federal court, and the former police chief tried three times to prosecute Ingram Councilmember Claud Jordan over his resistance to the ordinance. The state attorney general’s office declined to prosecute Jordan, saying it would be “untenable due to the City’s unclear and inconsistent implementation of the wastewater program, as well as the history of cases brought against Jordan.”
Rider said she plans to contact the city’s legal counsel this week with a suggestion on how to move forward, although she didn’t elaborate.
The city has initiated the litigation in municipal and district court over the years, but one defendant has countersued and named the former mayor and city administrator as defendants.
“We do not want to fight our business owners and our citizens,” Rider said.
More on recent developments at Ingram City Hall can be read here. See the original article: https://dailytimes.com/promotions/article_528e56a2-3e46-11eb-b93e-87208ffd5f90.html