Port Arthur city council to discuss city manager search Monday

Published 12:23 am Saturday, October 26, 2019

Port Arthur City Council members will finally get to take another step toward hiring a permanent city manager thanks to a special meeting that begins at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The council members will discuss the position during an executive session that follows the open portion of the meeting.

The city in August hired the Dallas-area firm of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause to conduct a national search. A first review of the candidates was originally due Sept. 30, and then an updated report was expected to be presented to the council on Oct. 14, but neither deadline was met.

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The report still hasn’t been made available, city human resources manager Trameka Williams said Friday, but she assumes it will come by Monday’s meeting.

“There are just extra steps they [Baker Tilly] need to take before they release it,” Williams said.

Ron Burton, who has served as interim city manager since August, said earlier this month he was thinking about applying for the permanent role but had not applied for it. He said he has not been involved in the search so it stays “very, very clean” in procedure should he, in fact, enter his name.

He could not be reached as of Friday afternoon.

The city conducted an in-house search for the permanent position starting in December 2018. It stalled three months later.

Since Brian McDougal’s resignation in November 2017, three people have served as city manager on an interim basis. Despite the delays, Mayor Pro Tem Harold Doucet earlier this week defended the search process.

“This search is going on, but we don’t meet but every two weeks,” Doucet said. “It could come at a time when we’re not meeting.”

Port Arthur’s last regular city council meeting was Tuesday.

Doucet hopes a permanent city manager will begin work by mid-January, considering the new hire, if coming from outside Port Arthur, will have to give at least two weeks’ notice to his or her present employer. He also said he doesn’t want to put anyone “under the gun” in the process.

“The process is fine,” Doucet said. “It’s just a system for [the search firm]. When they’re ready for us to interview, we get it done.”

Among resolutions the city council approved Tuesday, each by a 6-0 vote (Councilwoman Kaprina Richardson Frank was absent):

  • Lawrence Baker will replace Richard “Dick” Williams on the Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals. Williams died Sept. 11.
  • Melanie Ned and Muhammad Zahid Bashir have been appointed (or reappointed) to the Port Arthur Police Chief Advisory Committee.
  • Port Arthur will enter into an agreement with SCS Engineers of Bedford to last from November of this year to next August for groundwater, landfill gas and air quality services. The cost will not exceed $95,950.
  • A total of 4,000 Itron electronic meter transmitters for the water utilities department will be purchased from Republic Meter Inc. of Dallas with a “total projected budgetary impact” of $276,000.
  • The city will accept a $55,915.17 grant from the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program, and
  • the city will settle two physical damage claims against the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool; one in the amount of $30,565 as a result to property damage to traffic signals and another in the amount of $16,994.31 as a result to property damage to a landfill compactor.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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