City Manager Julie Oakley is leaving Lakeway for a job at a national accounting firm, according to a statement she released Wednesday afternoon. Her last day in her current role will be Sept. 2.
Oakley called the new job a once-in-a-lifetime management opportunity for her professionally, and said it also will give her flexibility to help her care for her mother, who has been battling Alzheimer’s diseasein West Texas.
“I am proud of dedicating 12 years of my life to the City of Lakeway, serving as finance director, assistant city manager, and for the past three years as your city manager,” she said. “While I am very excited for this next step in my professional journey, I also know it will be difficult to move on from this amazing team, having worked with many city staff members for more than a decade.”
Oakley is the subject of a lawsuit by a Lakeway resident who is suing her and several city leaders, claiming Oakley did not meet the residency requirement for her job.
Christopher Levy filed the suit in district court on June 14 on behalf of himself and other voters, residents and taxpayers in Lakeway. The lawsuit alleges that Oakley, who was offered the job by the City Council in November 2019, does not live in Lakeway, which is required for the person in her position.
The residency requirement for the city manager is decades old, and residents voted to keep that language in the charter in November 2020. The option to change the charter language was rejected by 64% of voters in that election.
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The charter dictates that the city manager can be appointed by a majority vote of the City Council and must reside within the city “within a reasonable period of time after accepting appointment.”
City officials stood by Oakley when the lawsuit was filed and said she was not in violation of the charter.
“The City’s position is simple. The City Manager is a resident of the City of Lakeway, and she, the mayor and city council members named in the lawsuit are in compliance with the Lakeway City Charter,” spokesperson Jarrod Wise said in a statement. “The City of Lakeway believes this lawsuit is politically motivated, is without merit, and has been filed solely to harass city staff and the city’s public officials.”
Levy said the lawsuit will continue despite Oakley’s departure because he wants to address the systemic issues in the city’s government that he felt led to a conspiracy between elected officials to knowingly hire and employ Oakley despite her not living in the city.
“We have to make sure this never happens again in Lakeway,” he said. “We have a procedural problem here with a cabal of people who were far outside the bounds of their roles as city leadership and completely outside the boundaries of the city charter.”
Levy also said he thinks the timing of Oakley’s departure is suspect, given the ongoing lawsuit.
Oakley said in her resignation statement that the lawsuit is not part of her decision to leave the city.
“While the timing is merely coincidental, I want to be clear that this decision does not have to do with the frivolous, politically motivated lawsuit recently filed,” she wrote. “I was already two months into the interview process when we were made aware of the lawsuit.”
Mayor Tom Kilgore said he is proud of what Oakley has accomplished in her time in Lakeway and expressed dismay at the actions of residents toward her in recent months, including the lawsuit in which he is also named as a defendant.
“While I am supportive of her making this decision to advance her career on a national level, I am also dismayed by the actions of certain individuals within the City of Lakeway over the past several months who have threatened the safety of Julie and her family,” he wrote. “In those months, our city manager and her family have been kept under constant surveillance, with one or more individuals often following her to her Lakeway residence from City Hall late at night, or already waiting for her at her Lakeway home. No city employee, male or female, should be exposed to a harassing environment.”
Levy took issue with Kilgore’s description of events, which he felt was an attempt to discredit the lawsuit. He said the surveillance information in the lawsuit was gathered legally by professionals.
“There’s never been any contact by law enforcement with my legal team regarding supposed stalking and harassment of Julie,” he said. “(His statement) is defamatory, it’s inflammatory, it’s preposterous and it is just completely unbounded in fact, and I challenge him or anyone in the leadership of Lakeway to say otherwise.”
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Kilgore also commended Oakley for managing the city through the pandemic and through the winter storms in 2021 that left many without power or water for days.
“We, myself and my fellow council members, thank Julie for making the city of Lakeway a better place for all of our residents,” he said. “We appreciate her hard work and dedication, and wish her the best on this next step of her professional journey.”