Evaluating the City’s operations

By Butch Cook
It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago, I made the decision to run for Mayor of Devine and now another election season is upon us for our fair town. The turnout for last spring’s election was approximately 50% higher than the previous two elections, and my hope is the trend will continue with two council seats up for grabs in May for District’s 1 and 3. Both races have quality candidates opposing each other, and the more citizens take an interest in our city government the better.

I have given this considerable thought and I want to thank the Devine News for allowing me to pen this column – and the opportunity to give my take on the important issues our city faces. I cannot guarantee that it will be in every issue, but I will make every effort to write as often as possible, or as often as they let me. I promise to be factual and not twist the facts to suit my political intentions. This way the whole community can stay informed, through our official newspaper, not just those who have access to social media.
First and foremost on my mind is an issue from last week’s regular monthly meeting, which became unexpectedly contentious. Our new City Administrator, David Jordan, who was hired in November and has been doing an incredible job for us, was given a mandate to assess and evaluate every single facet of our city’s operation once he became acclimated.
He recently had our Police Department evaluated by a retired 40-year police chief he trusts and a written report is expected soon. We plan to do this across the board so next on the list was our Contractual Services which includes our City Engineer, City Attorney, Annual Auditors, IT Director and Grant Administrator. These are named positions that serve us continually throughout the year, not just from time-to-time like contractors who win bids, and each have had the same people for many years.
I made it very clear at the introduction of the agenda item that we were not “going after” any of our current partners and we were doing this across the board; it will eventually include all of our contractors – electricians, construction, plumbers etc., and we also wish to attract the interest of new companies to enhance the competitive process and get the best value for our tax dollars.
It was mentioned at the meeting if there was any evidence of a lack of competence and what is the justification for the change? No one is saying there is a lack of competence or that the current people will not be retained, but I can tell you this:
Since 2016 the City of Devine has had a city administrator for only 6 months; that’s approximately 7 years without leadership at the most important position in this city, more important than the Mayor. Our City Secretary filled in admirably as Interim and is very dedicated to the city, but it’s simply too much for one person to handle and perform at the level needed.
Over the last 2 years we paid our City Engineer $154,184 and will be sending out another $56,000 this month; the City Attorney earned $153,226; the IT manager made $73,515 and the Auditors were paid $61,000.
We now have a City Administrator and I have been impressed with the ideas and opportunities he has brought forth, and we are in total agreement on this issue.
These partners perform vital services for the city and this is not to suggest that they are overpaid, but it’s a considerable amount of money, and I don’t see how anyone can disagree that our entire operation should not be evaluated and assessments made.