Following a Feb. 12 presentation by Monte Akers, an attorney with Akers Law Firm LLP, Bee Cave City Council is considering adding a proposal to the ballot to adopt a home rule city charter in time for its May election.
The conversion to a home rule charter would allow the City of Bee Cave more flexibility in its legislation. Akers said home rule is "the epitome of ... local rule" in which the citizens can "stamp the charter with the local values of the community."
A home rule city can annex property in its extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, without the consent of the landowners as long as state law procedures are followed. Additionally, the change would provide the city with increased taxing authority to impose higher tax rates and fees.
To become a home rule city, Bee Cave must show that it has at least 5,000 inhabitants, select a 15-member charter commission and draft a charter to be considered for adoption. If this process is completed by March 1, the issue could be placed on the May 11 ballot. If approved by local voters, a copy of the charter provisions will be sent to the Texas Secretary of State, and if approved, the City of Bee Cave could begin exercising the authority granted to a home rule city.
Akers said that although the new designation broadens Bee Cave's authority for land use, businesses which have already approached the council about constructing inside the ETJ or city limits are bound by the law which applied when they first contacted the City of Bee Cave.
"You can't change the rules after the game has begun," Akers said at the Feb. 12 meeting. "The rules are frozen in time on the date [the company] requests a permit for development."
However, further permitting and other processes would be governed by the law in place at the time the new applications are made.
Local residents, including Paul Klein, Andrew Clark and Ben King, voiced their opinions on immediately going forward with the charter changes.
"It's not a question of if; it's a question of when. We should have been having this conversation months ago," Klein said. "By November, some of the things that may go into the ETJ will already be there. If we wait until tomorrow, it's a big mistake."
Bee Cave City Administrator Frank Salvato stated that some citizens have informed him that they are opposed to Bee Cave adopting a home rule city charter.