Some members of the Glen Rose City Council and Mayor Pam Miller got into a debate Monday evening about the process of screening candidates for and possibly hiring a new city administrator.
At the regular council meeting, two items on the agenda related to the new position. One was to discuss and possibly appoint a group to review and assess applications for the city administrator position, and the other was to approve a schedule for interviewing candidates.
Miller questioned the timing and cost of the hunt for a city administrator. But other council members favored moving forward and said it's time the city had a full-time administrator.
Councilman Bob Stricklin had asked Larry Shaw, who's also chairman of the Somervell County Hospital Authority Board, to put together a panel to possibly review and assess applications for the council. Larry Fleming, a member of the Water Development Board, and Gary Whittle, a member of the hospital board, also are in the group.
All three men have had previous experience with city administration in other towns – Shaw and Whittle with the cities of DeSoto and Mesquite, and Fleming worked in public works for a city in West Texas. Shaw noted that they had performed a similar candidate screening service for the city of Liberty.
So far 38 people have applied for the Glen Rose city administrator’s job since the city began advertising the position through the Texas Municipal League.
Shaw presented the council with a timetable for narrowing down the list of candidates. April 12 would be the deadline for applications and the screening and interviewing process would take place in late April and May. In June the council would receive the recommended short list of applications. On June 25 candidates would meet with key staff members, followed by interviews the next day.
The mayor protested that the council “never got an opportunity to say” who would be on the review panel.
“The council needs to vote on that or decide if we need to wait,” Miller said.
She noted that with three council positions on the ballot in May, there was a possibility of having new council members. Councilman Ricky Villa is not running for re-election, but Councilman Rocky Terry and Councilwoman Barbara Mitchell are.
“A new council could come in and say maybe we don’t need a new city administrator,” Miller said.
“I disagree, Mayor,” Stricklin responded. “This was always predicated on that we were going to do a Comprehensive Plan (the city's master plan) and needed a city administrator to oversee it.
“I think we should move forward,” he added. “People come on and off the council every year. They’ll just have to get up to speed.”
Miller said she would like to include three others on the panel – Mitchell, Ronald Bruce, the city superintendent, and former mayor John Parker. They all live within the city limits, she said, adding that she had heard that not all of the members on Shaw's panel did.
“You’re starting to get a large group,” Stricklin said. “The purpose of this was just to screen. You would see all the applicants’ resumes. They were going to rate them – which ones would be the best fit for the city. If you get too many people on a board, it gets to be non-functional.”
Of the people who have applied for the job so far, Shaw said there were some good candidates. He recommended that the council hire a city administrator “at will,” meaning the person would not have a set term of service and would serve at the pleasure of the council.
“We’re now approaching 40 candidates – the more the merrier,” Shaw said. “You’re probably going to get one good candidate out of 10” applications.
Stricklin made a motion that that the council appoint Shaw, Fleming, Whittle and Mitchell to go through the applications for city administrator.
“I still think we should postpone it until after the election in May,” Miller said.
Stricklin asked how soon new council members would be seated. Peggy Busch, city secretary, responded that it likely would be June or July since votes would have to be canvassed first.
Before the council began discussing the city administrator job, Miller showed the council figures on sales tax revenue. They indicated that sales tax revenues fell last year to $941,150 from almost $1.18 million a year earlier when Glen Rose benefited from oil and gas activity.
Sales tax figures were so unusually high last year that the Texas Comptroller's office called the city to inquire why. Last year's sales tax was still better than the $602,727 in sales taxes that the city collected in 2007 before the oil and gas activity spiked the total.
“Part of the reason I passed out the information on taxes is because we really have to watch our finances,” Miller said. “That’s my biggest thing – is whether we need one (a city administrator) at this point. The tax part worries me – the money not being there.”
She also noted that current city employees could work on the Comprehensive Plan. Busch and Bruce “are good at working with the budget. Ronald is very good at going out and meeting people,” she said.
“Our employees are excellent and doing a good job,” Terry agreed. “I feel like we’re ready for an administrator, but it’s a matter of finding the right one and not just a body.”
“We’re getting the process in motion,” Mitchell added. “We don’t have to be in a big hurry.”
“Right now things are going very well,” Miller said. “If it’s not broke, why fix it?”
Shaw said a city administrator could “do things a little differently to make things better,” such as working in advance with the city attorney and working to improve financial planning and financial stewardship.
“You’re missing that link,” he said.
“That one person could make one decision that could pay his salary many times over,” Terry said, noting that the city administrator might be able to come up with grants.
After the discussion, the council approved the schedule for interviewing candidates.
In other action, the council:
Heard from Karen Richardson of the city’s Preservation Board that large oak trees had been cut down on a piece of property at U.S. 67 and Gaither Street. The city requires that a tree survey be provided for any new construction prior to issuing a permit and sets out procedures for protection existing trees. Councilman Chris Bryant said the city would look into the matter.
Approved a request to rezone 101 N.E. Vine Street, the site of the White Gables Inn, for a proposed restaurant that owner Michael Stephenson plans to develop there. The restaurant would have a Hollywood theme and be a casual eatery with indoor and outdoor dining.
Tabled a request to rezone property at the corner of Barnard and Van Zandt streets for a proposed mixed-use development of villas, townhomes, carriage houses, duplexes and small restaurants. The council wanted more time to make sure the development fits in with the city’s overlay plan for the Paluxy River District.
Approved using the nCourt system to allow people to pay tickets online.
Designated seven more properties as 2010 historic landmarks.