Bee Cave voters will decide in May if the city should become a home-rule city.
The Bee Cave City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved an ordinance calling for a special election on May 11.
Home-rule status would give the City Council additional powers, such as the authority to annex land near the city limits. It also gives residents greater say in the city government, such as the ability to suggest ordinances and initiate referendums and recalls, and it broadens the authority of the city manager.
The push to get the home-rule item on the May ballot comes after Covert Auto Group told the city about its plans to build a car dealership off Texas 71 near the upscale Falconhead West subdivision. The proposed dealership is outside Bee Cave and about 650 feet east of the entrance to the neighborhood. Bee Cave rejected initial plans for the car dealership in December, but Covert recently submitted updated plans.
Bee Cave and Travis County have yet to give final approvals for the dealership, but because it is outside the city, Bee Cave officials likely will have a difficult time stopping the project. Having home-rule status would give the city more power to stop such projects in the future.
Mayor Caroline Murphy asked city staffers during the Feb. 12 City Council meeting to move forward with the initial required steps for home-rule status.
A 15-member charter commission of residents, led by the mayor’s husband, former Council Member Mike Murphy, met for a week prior to Tuesday’s council meeting to create the proposed language for the ballot item. A link to Bee Cave’s proposed home-rule charter is available on the city’s website, www.beecavetexas.com.
“It contains a very good balance,” Mayor Murphy said about the proposed charter. “Annexation is a very powerful tool. It’s a tool that is very important for us to have.”
The home-rule issue dominated the City Council meeting as council members and residents largely focused on how members of the city’s charter commission put aside personal differences to work together and how annexation would be used in the future as the city grows. The city had a March 1 deadline to get an item on the May ballot.
To become a home-rule city, Bee Cave must show it has a population of at least 5,000.
In 2010, 3,925 people lived in Bee Cave, according to the census. City Administrator Frank Salvato said the city staff believe the census undercounted the population and that Bee Cave’s population was more than 5,000 last summer.
Community Services Director Lindsey Withrow said she estimated Bee Cave’s population at 5,371. She said she verified in February a count of residents, which was determined through census information, county records and building permit data as well as an aerial count of rooftops, site visits and counts of people living in single-family homes, mobile homes, apartments and assisted-living facilities.