CEDAR HILLS — The Cedar Hills City Council will be short one member when it meets again on Feb. 7.

James Parker has announced he will resign his position on the council effective Tuesday. Parker, who has served on the council for the past two years, is being relocated to the Boston area through his job at Novell Inc.

"It's kind of a melancholy situation," he said. "I was looking forward to working with the council and hopefully make some progress on all of the different issues facing Cedar Hills. But I'm trying to do what's right for the family."

Parker said he plans to move his family to the Boston area in early April. He decided to step down from the council at the end of this month to prepare for the move.

Mayor Mike McGee said Parker will be missed.

"James has always been very diligent in serving the city," McGee said. "I've been appreciative of his service on the council and wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors."

Parker has two years remaining in his four-year council term. The City Council plans to fill that vacancy during its Feb. 21 meeting. Applications for the position will be accepted through Feb. 15 at the city offices, 3925 W. Cedar Hills Drive.

In his final City Council meeting Tuesday night, Parker was the lone dissenting vote on an amendment to an ordinance requiring bonds floated by the city to first be approved by voters.

The ordinance, which began as a citizens' initiative, was approved by voters in 2003 in an effort to avoid future financial woes like those created by the city's troubled golf course.

City Council members said the ordinance was too restrictive and by a 4-1 vote rescinded the requirement of prior approval from voters for basic public services such as water, sewer and irrigation.

"The unattended consequences of that ordinance were dramatically impairing the ability of the staff and elected officials to perform essential services," McGee said, "so we had the need to amend it somewhat."

By restricting the city's ability to bond to essential services, the city is not in danger of finding itself in a golf course-like sand trap, he said.

"We don't feel like what we've done really dramatically changes the intent of the original ordinance, so we felt comfortable with it," McGee said.

Parker disagrees, saying the ordinance requires "the type of planning and discipline that Cedar Hills needs at this point in time."

"I'm not at all a fan of borrowing money — either personally or as a government entity," he said. "I feel like in the case of a long-term bond, that is the type of issue that has a significant impact on a little community like ours and deserves voter input."

Parker said he believes voters should have been the ones to decide whether the ordinance should be amended.

A public hearing prior to the special City Council meeting filled that need, McGee said. Only two of the bedroom community's 8,500 residents attended to voice opposition to the change.

"That sort of lets you know it's a non-issue," he said.

The Cedar Hills Golf Course has been losing money since it opened in August 2003. The course lost nearly $225,000 in fiscal year 2004 and about $300,000 in 2005.

During a special election in June, 82 percent of voters supported a $7 million bond issue to refinance the struggling golf course. The $6.25 million, 20-year bond, which had been callable in 2007, was sold in November.

A property tax increase of about $132 per year per household was levied to allow the city to make its bond payments, something it was struggling to do before the restructuring. The property tax increase will go into effect on homeowners' 2006 tax bills.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com