Leander City Council has fired top staff, signaling what could be a major shift in the city’s direction.
After deliberating nearly two and a half hours in executive session Monday, city council fired City Manager Kent Cagle “with cause” in a 6-1 vote. The meeting was a sudden decision; the council scheduled Monday’s special conference only last week, a mere few hours after newly elected council members were sworn in.
Cagle told Community Impact he has not been told specifically why he was fired, but that he was not surprised.
“I have nothing to say,” Cagle said. “It’s done. There’s no need to go into it now.”
Cagle had just been given a 3 percent pay raise in November—but that was under the old city council. Mayor Troy Hill, who was elected last year and voted against the raise, said he thought the manager should be held to a higher standard.
“We should pay people well and support them 100 percent, but at the same time, we need to expect the same kind of performance that the private sector expects,” Hill said at the time. “I do not feel this process has been done in Leander. Our city is pretty far behind other cities as far as economic development … I have faith our city manager can get it done, but I also want to hold him and other employees accountable for results, and I don’t think that’s been done.”
Cagle wasn’t the only one caught in the city’s staff shake-up—before Monday’s meeting, the economic development director resigned.
Following council’s decision this week, Hill spoke about the city’s current troubling situation and how citizens have been anxious for change.
“I believe dismissal was necessary for the city to go in a direction that voters overwhelmingly advocated in two election cycles,” Hill wrote in an email. “The city needs to go [in]a new direction with a focus on economic development and lessening the tax burden on property owners. Our council felt a change was necessary to make this happen.”
Hill’s “new direction” will hopefully forge a new path for a city long stuck in an economic desert.
Leander, a suburb of Austin, has long been a ghost town for businesses. Over the years, city council has enacted a complicated web of rules and restrictions which has blocked new businesses from coming to town, leaving the city’s streets desolate of anything but homes. While surrounding cities such as Cedar Park and Round Rock have experienced a flood of new places to work, shop, and eat, Leander has had barely a trickle.
But last year, citizens finally acted and elected Hill and Council Member Marci Cannon, two candidates who pledged to be pro-business and pro-taxpayer. Then just a few weeks ago, Leander residents again elected three more council members who also campaigned on leading the city out of their self-inflicted drought.
Now, with a majority of pro-business members on the council, they’ve quickly begun paving that new path.
Will Leander finally be open for business? Citizens will soon see as their new council gets to work.