Bastrop City Council passed a resolution outlining eight limitations on the mayor at a special meeting April 29.

The limitations include necessary approval by City Council for the reimbursement of expenses by the mayor and the preclusion of the use of city funds paying for the mayor to speak at events without council approval.

Bastrop residents offered comments on the issue both for and against the resolution. Despite some requests for him to do so by residents, Mayor Lyle Nelson stated at the meeting he had no intention to resign.

“This personal vendetta will spill over into subverting the office of the mayor,” Nelson said. “I pray that hate can collectively be mitigated and we can do what is best for our city.”

The background

An investigation into Visit Bastrop, which receives the majority of its funding from the city, was initiated following allegations by the four Visit Bastrop employees claiming a misuse of funds by former CEO Susan Smith.

An ethics complaint was filed against Nelson on Jan. 18 for interfering in the investigation by lying and refusing to provide text messages. Nelson received the highest reprimand as a result of an ethics commission hearing April 10.

The gist

The city of Bastrop operates under a weak mayor system, meaning the mayor does not have a vote unless there is a tie on council. The resolution further limits the actions of the mayor without council approval.

The resolution can be repealed at any time with three council member votes, city officials said.

Council member Kevin Plunkett was among the four council members who voted in support of the resolution.

“[Lyle Nelson] has not been loyal to his obligations to the people of Bastrop. He has placed his desire to avoid embarrassment and public atonement above his duties to taxpayers,” Plunkett said at the meeting. “Worse yet, he’s asking us to do the same.”

The details

Among the changes regarding the position of mayor outlined in the resolution were:
  • No city funds shall be used for the mayor’s attendance at an event without approval from City Council.
  • City staff shall not schedule or propose the mayor speak at city or city-sponsored events without City Council approval.
  • They mayor may not serve on other internal or external city boards, commissions, committees or task forces.
  • The city will have no legislative director, revoking the mayor’s designation as a spokesperson or advocate for the city without previous authorization by City Council.
Looking ahead

Recommendations from the newly established hotel occupancy tax task force are expected this summer in time to be heard before final budget decisions, city officials said. The task force was designed to offer more oversight in the use of hotel occupancy tax funds.

A recall petition was started by Bastrop residents following the April 10 ethics committee decision. About 1,500 signatures by registered voters are necessary to recall a mayor in Bastrop.