Victoria City Manager Charmelle Garrett announced Tuesday she plans to retire in April after 28 years in city government.
“I’ve decided to retire and am looking forward to my next chapter in life,” Garrett said at the end of Tuesday’s Council meeting.
Garrett said she wasn’t sure what she would do after leaving City Hall.
“I’ve had the great privilege of working with two mayors, Mayor (Will) Armstrong and Mayor (Paul) Polasek, and it’s a true pleasure to work with people that care about this community with all their heart,” she said.
Garrett also commended the City Council, city staff and department heads in city government.
“I’m very proud of the 600-plus employees that get up every day and do the job that the citizens need to be done. They do it with professionalism, a smile on their face and, at most times, without a lot of thanks,” Garrett said. “Whoever takes my place is going to be very fortunate to inherit the leadership team that this community has.”
The city manager is appointed by the City Council. Polasek said Tuesday he would work with council members Jan Scott and Josephine Soliz to identify search firms that could help the council develop a shortlist of candidates before selecting their pick for the job.
Garrett is the first woman to serve as Victoria’s city manager, leading the day-to-day operations of the city government. Garrett began working for the city in 1990 in the human resources department and took over as city manager in March 2011. The Texas City Manager’s Association named Garrett administrator of the year, a statewide honor, in June.
Also Tuesday, the council approved an ordinance that will allow the Victoria Public Library director to create an amnesty period, during which library users can ask for fines or fees on overdue materials to be forgiven. The ordinance permits the library director to create such a period no more than once a year.
Libraries across the country are increasingly turning to tools like amnesty periods or other fine forgiveness programs to lower the economic barriers hefty library fines can pose. Library director Dayna Williams-Capone said previously the library was hoping to test an amnesty period to see whether it encouraged cardholders to return materials.
The American Library Association supports local libraries taking steps to remove economic barriers to using a library services, and multiple public library systems have overhauled their fine or fee systems. The Austin Public Library stopped charging overdue fees for all kids and teens with library cards this year, and the Charleston County Public Library system in South Carolina stopped charging fees for all overdue books in June.
The council was also informed that the Marsha Shanklin Foundation has committed to giving Victoria more than $300,000 for the city to build a new splash pad in Riverside Park. Colby VanGundy, the director of Victoria’s Parks and Recreation department, said the money would be given to the city over a three-year period.
VanGundy said the splash pad in Riverside Park would be bigger than the city’s existing splash pads and thus would cost more. He said although plans were still being developed, the total cost could range from $800,000 to north of $1 million.
“That’s a good start on getting that project rolling,” VanGundy said about the foundation’s pledge.