By MARTHA McCLAIN
Special to the PRESS
Laguna Vista Town Councilmembers on Tuesday approved a one-year employment contract with the new City Manager, Tony David.
David served as chief of police for the Town for the past five years. He was the unanimous choice of the Town Council which reportedly reviewed some 20 applications for the position.
David fills the post after the Council accepted the resignation of Rolando Vela who served as city manager for the past 10 years. Vela did not indicate in writing his reason for resigning, according to Mayor Susie Houston.
She said Wednesday that the Council preferred the one-year contractual agreement with David. “This will let us come to the table to talk, but doesn’t tie us in to a six year contract,” she said.
The Council also approved a measure that will allow David to reside outside of the Town, pursuant to Section 3.02 of the Home Rule Charter. The section reads, “The Town Manager need not be a resident of the Town or State at the time of appointment and may reside outside the Town while in office, only with the approval of the Council.”
He currently resides in Rio Hondo, the mayor said.
In his new role, David’s salary was set at $69,000 annually, with benefits.
“He was selected for his leadership abilities,” Houston said.
David is originally from Harlingen and previously served on the Rio Hondo City Council. His first position with the Highway Patrol in the 80s was working this area, Houston said.
His goals are to continue the projects underway within the Town at this time, supervising the police and fire departments as well as administration, she added.
Vela’s departure and the installation of David as new city manager set into motion a series of other management changes.
He was unanimously appointed by the Council to serve as the general manager for the Laguna Vista Community Development Corporation, while City Secretary Alma Deckard was named to fill the position of finance manager for the LVCDC.
To ensure an adequate “system of checks and balances,” the Council appointed office employee Ana Hernandez as the CDC’s corporation’s secretary.
Also as apparent fallout following Vela’s leaving, the Town Council considered the possibility of appointing a member of their board to act as an ambassador between the Council and Town employees. The reason for the suggestion, Council Member Nadine Smith said, was to allow staff a means of expressing valid concerns when the chain-of-command failed. “There was no communication. It fell apart completely,” she said. “I just want a more functional system. It could be like HR (human resources), which as small city we don’t have,” she added.
However, concerns were raised that such a system could dilute the city manager style of government that is now in place, especially the supervisory powers the manager has. The measure could also interfere with the City Charter’s parameters, Council members said.
Following lengthy discussion two motions related to the suggestion failed.