The ongoing envelopment of the Economic Development Corporation by the office of City Manager Andrea Gardner was discussed Tuesday at the City Council’s workshop preceding their regular meeting.
The council discussed personnel policies for EDC staff who will soon become city employees as the corporation is brought under the auspices of the city manager in the coming fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1.
Among the topics discussed were setting a 10 percent pay increase for EDC interim Executive Director Monica MacKay.
The council was in agreement that 10 percent matched pay increases for city staff in director positions.
“If she’s doing the job, she deserves a bit more compensation to do it,” Councilman James Pierce said during the discussion.
The council had previously sparred with the EDC over the pay increase for MacKay, which was stipulated in the EDC’s FY 2017 budget, agreeing that if the EDC staff was coming under the auspices of the city, then the previous proposed percentage increase was too steep.
The council also discussed current positions in the EDC, including the director of business development, business retention specialist, office administrator and office coordinator positions.
Among proposed changes to these positions were outsourcing the director of business development position, redefining the business retention specialist position without lowering the salary for the job, severely dialing back the responsibilities and salary of the office administrator position, and eliminating the office coordinator position.
The current office coordinator, Pat Spangler, has worked with the EDC part time since November 2010 after being redirected by the city from a position at the library.
MacKay, who was formerly the director of business development before being appointed to the interim role, said that if an executive director was hired and the council chose to outsource her former position, MacKay would be without a position at the EDC.
The council stated their intention in the workshop to continue searching for an executive director.
MacKay said that in a previous discussion with Gardner the possibility of the position being outsourced had been floated and the conversation in the workshop was not unexpected. MacKay has worked with the Cove EDC for 16 years.
Gardner said all employees who currently hold the roles would be given until Jan. 7 to decide whether to stay in the roles or move on, but would be given a chance to apply to stay on city staff.
“Our goal is to retain them on staff,” Gardner said.
The council also approved the fiscal year 2017 budget and municipal services plan at its regular meeting.
The approved budget for the coming year slightly draws down the city’s total fund balance by just more than $50,000 to a total ending fund balance of $10,329,524.
In a separate motion, the council approved the city’s property tax rate. The rate is set at 79.7908 cents per $100 of taxable value assessed, which is the same rate as last year.
Within that rate, 54.9218 cents is for maintenance and operations and 24.8690 cents is for interest and sinking funds for the repayment of bonded debt.
The proposed rate enumerated in the budget will raise more revenue from property taxes than last year’s budget by an amount of $254,252, which is a 2.58 percent increase.
In other business, the council:
- Appointed three candidates to seats on the EDC board of directors. Christian Mulvey, Harald Weldon and Adam Martin will take over three seats on the board, one of which sits vacant after the resignation of Jerry D. Smith from the board on Thursday and two of which will become vacant when the terms of Bradi Diaz and Jack Smith end Sept. 30.
- Voted to amend the EDC’s fiscal year 2017 budget to increase planned payment to the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance to a total of $17,000.
Councilman Matthew Russell voted in dissent, saying the city should not approve spending so much money on the EDC-HOTDA agreement when the benefits to the city were not readily apparent.
“Tell me what the benefit is, so I can tell the citizens of Copperas Cove why we are spending the money on an organization that we can’t determine the benefit of,” Russell said.
Councilman George Duncan agreed the discussion needed to be had on the benefit of the agreement to the city, but voted to approve the budget increase as long as the discussion would eventually be broached in the future.
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