Plum Grove City Council met on Thursday, Sept. 28, with the purpose of passing a budget and tax rate. Before the vote on either agenda item was held, the meeting took a dramatic turn when one of the council members, Sharron Reed, suddenly resigned in the midst of an executive session where litigation against Colony Ridge and Quadvest was being discussed.
Toward the end of the meeting, there was another dramatic moment when the former mayor, Lee Ann Penton Walker, was escorted out of the meeting by a Plum Grove police officer after she repeatedly interrupted and spoke out of turn.
The interruptions from Walker began immediately as she entered the tax and budget hearings, which were already underway, signed in and made a puzzling statement to Mayor Mary Arrendell, asking if she has read any good news articles lately. The interruptions continued as she sat in the audience and weighed in on discussions among council members.
Arrendell told Bluebonnet News that Walker, who has been a divisive figure in the city and openly critical of decisions made by current and previous councils, has been warned many times in the past not to disrupt meetings, but the behavior has continued.
“Enough is enough. Interruptions during council meetings will not be tolerated. The more interruptions we have, the harder it is for council to make decisions and it takes us longer to get things done because things get off topic. You can’t go into commissioners court or any other city council meeting and disrupt their meetings, and we are not going to allow it at ours,” Arrendell said.
Amid the disruptions, Council still managed to unanimously approve the City’s budget, which was balanced to the penny with $481,600 in estimated revenues and the same in total expenditures. City Secretary Missy Pouncey told Council that the new convenience store at the entrance of Old Plum Grove Road is expected to generate additional sales tax income for the city, though the exact amounts are still unknown. She estimated it would be several thousand dollars each month.
Council also adopted the 2023 ad valorem tax rate of $0.306142 per $100 in property value, which is considered a no-new-revenue rate. When Council members failed to show up at two meetings earlier this month to set or even discuss the tax rate, the City had to assume the direction Council would favor based on prior discussions, Pouncey explained.
Pouncey said she felt certain that a tax rate increase would not be supported by Council, so she went forward with posting the legally required notices, which have strict statutory deadlines, for a tax rate that would not further the tax burden for Plum Grove residents.
Council also briefly discussed an ordinance that would address the decorum of elected and appointed officials for the City. The ordinance, as presented, would provide a penalty of up to $500 for any member of Council who files a false complaint or gives false testimony. The discussion included adding a social media policy to the ordinance. No action was taken and the Council intends to discuss the item at a future meeting.