Lakeway’s new City Manager Joseph Molis was unanimously appointed during the Nov. 21 Lakeway City Council meeting. Molis had served as interim city manager since Sept. 2. He began work with the city as assistant city manager in 2020.

Before coming to work for the city in 2020, Molis worked for the city of Harker Heights near Killeen for over 10 years as its director of planning and development. In an interview with Community Impact, Molis talked about some of his goals for Lakeway as well as how he plans to use his prior experience to help lead the city.

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What are your priorities for Lakeway as the new city manager?

I think the priorities are going to be making sure our departments are fully staffed. That’s going to include things like looking at a salary survey later in the year, making sure that we’re paying our staff appropriately, looking at our benefits package and making sure it’s the best that we can do within our budget. I want to be able to provide a better complete strategy for dealing with that because I suspect we will be looking at things like commuting or altering hours to allow people to commute to this location because we’re kind of remote out here in west Travis County. I think there are going to be several strategies that we’re going to have to undertake to look at it holistically.

What is the role of the city manager when working with city staff?

The city manager runs the day-to-day operations of the city. The council acts like the board; they set the policy, but it’s up to the city manager to enact that policy and to help the council actually determine what policies they do want to set forward. [City managers] also provide advice and guidance to the City Council so that they can make good decisions that the city manager then has to logistically accomplish. City Council sets the mission, and the city manager works with the department heads and the rest of the staff to accomplish that.

What do you foresee as some of Lakeway’s biggest challenges?

I think some of the bigger challenges are going to be figuring out how to finance a lot of the projects we have going on. We just had a bond approved for transportation, but right on the cusp of that we’ve finished a parks master plan and strategic plan where we want to do some incredible projects with our parks, and we’re going to have to figure out how to pay for those, whether we go for another bond or whether we increase our capital improvement funds so that we can pay for those with the money we have on hand, or a combination of both.

What are your long-term goals for the city?

I’ve always told people if I was ever famous enough to write memoirs, the chapter in Lakeway would be called “density and traffic.” Those are the key issues that I think our citizens are focused on. We’re going to have to update our traffic network to allow better connectivity throughout the city. We’re going to have to deal with [RM] 620, and then we’re going to have to deal with maintaining our city’s identity while allowing property owners to develop their properties. Many properties that remain in the city that are undeveloped are undeveloped because they’re either incredibly expensive or that they have some challenges to development. You’re going to see a need for some type of density in order to get a return on their investments. We’re going to have to strike that balance between allowing property owners to develop their properties yet maintaining Lakeway’s identity as a green community where we’ve got lots of walking trails and it’s a more residential community.

What do you enjoy about your position?

As assistant city manager, I tried to come to as many social events as I could, and physically living here makes it a lot easier for me; it makes it easier for me to enjoy all of the great parks and trails and all the amenities that we have here in the area. It really puts me in the footsteps of our citizens where I will truly understand what it’s like, what their lives are like, and it’ll help guide me when I have to make decisions on moving forward.