Interim city manager to EDC board: no new executive director, yet
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday and heard from Ryan Haverlah, Copperas Cove’s interim city manager, on the status of an executive director for the EDC’s economic development department.
“We informed that candidate of the situation that is currently ongoing with the city council’s direction and the board’s joint meetings that have occurred, and I have not extended an offer for employment to that candidate, nor will I, until a decision has been made between city council and the board regarding the structure of staff. Once that decision has been made and what direction has bene provided, I can work with whoever I need to, in order to consider interviewing them again, or simply bringing them onto the staff, or if need be if that person has selected another position elsewhere.”
The EDC board and Copperas Cove city council held a joint meeting last month to talk about the possibility of moving the employees from under the city manager.
Presently, the EDC’s employees are employees of the city’s Economic Development Department and are under the direct supervision of the city manager. As such, the city’s Human Resources Department is currently responsible for the hiring and firing of the EDC’s employees.
EDC board chair Adam Martin told the board on Wednesday that he’s had some time to think about the idea and talked about the present advantages – and disadvantages – of the EDC’s employees being under the supervision of the city manager.
Martin said he was supportive of the move at the time, as it was a great way to gain some transparency and gain some efficiencies. With the city’s finance director overseeing the financials, Martin said it is a check and balance that wasn’t there before, that it provided the city council and citizens assurance that the EDC was doing things right.
“We’re paying about $800 a month for city services. It ebbs and flows, it’s not a whole lot of money to get the expertise we receive,” Martin said. Prior to the EDC employees being under the city, the EDC employed its own full-time administrator/bookkeeper.
However, Martin called it a conflict of interest for the executive director to report to the city manager.
“In a way the, executive director has two bosses. We haven’t seen a huge conflict recently, but it has happened before and I can see the potential for it to happen again.
“Personally, as a board member, I want to see the executive director to concentrate on economic development, 100 percent.”
He also took issue with the executive director being hired and fired by the city manager without input from the EDC board.
“I don’t think that’s the direction we want to go, especially since this board is responsible for governing the EDC and is responsible for the productivity of the EDC.”
Interim Executive Director Diane Drussell brought an initial estimate for a feasibility study of The Narrows for a speculative building. One firm, she said, gave her a baseline figure of $25,000, for which it could assess The Narrows as far as the various sites on the property, to include its infrastructure and other elements and include one-page of marketing information. The board directed her to go forward and get more information on that study, particularly where marketing of the property is concerned.
The board also directed Drussell regarding the development standards for The Narrows, but for whatever reason had never been officially approved by the board nor implemented.
“We did have a vision for what we thought the industrial park should look like,” Drussell said. “I have had several questions regarding the truck driving school because they did not follow the development standards, but in reviewing their performance agreement, there is nothing in their performance agreement that asks them to abide by this. Plus, the development standards were never adopted.”
The board also directed Drussell to move forward with creating a new request for proposals (RFP) to clear and grub The Narrows Business & Technology Park.
“I think the ultimate goal is to make it marketable, make it attractive, for potential buyers to see what they are getting,” said Martin.