More than three years ago, an independent report commissioned by the Glen Rose City Council — and paid for by taxpayers — found that the city had “inadequate management” and recommended a full-time city manager or administrator to serve as city's chief executive officer.
A Strategic Steering Team appointed by the council came to the same conclusion.
And so did most members an advisory panel appointed by the council to screen applications for the job.
Those recommendations, though, remain up in the air. Last week the council, after some contentious debate, decided to put the hiring on hold after 54 applications for the job had been received and screened.
The city had included $50,000 in this year’s budget to hire an administrator and had advertised for the position on the Texas Municipal League’s Web site.
The decision frustrated some of those involved in the process who say that politics and keeping power in the hands of a few derailed the hiring. They pointed out that the city also has a reserve fund of almost $2 million.
“We had the money to do it,” said one person involved in the process who did not want to be identified. “There was no need to raise taxes. That was a scare tactic.”
“The Road to Home Rule,” a March 2007 report prepared by the Counselors of Real Estate Consulting Corps Panel, was a blueprint to guide Glen Rose through its growth.
The report cost the city $17,000.
“Most civic and political leaders agree that it is highly desirable for the City of Glen Rose to reach a population of 5,000, thus becoming a home-rule city, as rapidly as reasonably possible,” the panel found.
But the lack of a manager at the helm was a “negative factor” that could affect growth, it added.
“The CRE Panel is of the opinion that the City of Glen Rose requires a full-time city manager to serve as chief executive officers of the city, acting under the direction of the city council operating as a board of directors,” the panelists wrote.
“While the city is fortunate to have capable and well-meaning individuals serving as mayor and council members, their involvement is on a part-time basis,” the report continued. “There exists within the city no full-time executive authority empowered to represent and speak for the city on a day-to-day basis.”
It envisioned the city's CEO as becoming the “focal point in the city for the development community and its inevitable coterie of financiers and technical experts.”
With the advice and consent of the council, the city administrator would become the “executive face of Glen Rose to the world.
“Energetic execution and administration of the CMP requires a full-time, motivated and capable City Manager to drive it forward,” the report concluded. “By energetically seeking state and federal funding sources and other opportunities, a capable city manager should be able to more than defray his or her own expense.”
Another key recommendation of the report was to develop a Comprehensive Master Plan, which the city government did. As suggested, it also formed a Strategic Steering Team, or SST, to begin implementing the plan and starting the process of selecting and hiring a city manager.
The SST members were County Commissioner Mike Ford, Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Billy Huckaby, Glen Rose Medical Center Chief Executive Gary Marks, GRISD School Board President Marilyn Phillips, Larry Shaw (who currently heads the Somervell County Hospital Authority Board) and City Councilman Rocky Terry.
The CRE panel “unanimously believes that Glen Rose has reached the point that a full-time city manager is both warranted and justified,” the report continued.
At last week’s city council meeting, Mayor Pam Miller said that the city’s outside auditor, Cliff S. May, and financial advisor Jim Sabonis of First Southwest had told her that the city could not justify the expense of hiring a city administrator at this time. She also said that proceeding with the hiring would raise taxes.
There also is some dispute about the candidates and the salary ranges they wanted. City Councilwoman Barbara Mitchell, who was on the four-member city administrator panel reviewing the applications, said some candidates were making $85,000 to well over $100,000. Shaw, however, said the top candidates were in the $75,000 range.
The council plans to revisit the topic after its annual planning retreat.
Meanwhile, the job remains posted on the city’s Web site.