Victoria may have a second assistant city manager in the future.
Jesús Garza, Victoria’s new city manager, proposed the idea to the Victoria City Council on Tuesday during a personnel and organization presentation ahead of the upcoming fiscal year.
In his presentation, Garza stated his desire for the city to operate with a proactive structure rather than a reactive one and said the addition of a second assistant city manager is one of many ways to achieve that goal. He said that position will also fill a void in economic development.
“Having a second assistant city manager will allow me the time to be able to do strategic planning with you and be more proactive about what we’re doing overall as an organization,” said Garza, who began his role as city manager May 20.
Garza said when he was researching for his new job, he was “a little surprised” to find that the city manager’s office only had one assistant city manager.
“In my experience in other communities or even just knowing and being involved with the City Management Association, it’s not uncommon for a city of our size to have two assistant city managers or even more,” he said.
Garza provided the council with an analysis that compared Victoria to 12 other cities with a population of 10,000 people more or fewer than Victoria’s population, which is about 67,000. The analysis, which included Baytown, Cedar Park, Harlingen and San Marcos, found Victoria was the only city with one assistant city manager.
The idea, Garza said, would be to add a second assistant city manager with an economic development background, though the position wouldn’t impact or interfere with what the Victoria Economic Development Corporation does. Focusing on economic development has been one of Garza’s priorities in Victoria.
Garza said Victoria’s current and only assistant city manager, John Kaminski, would retain many of the main responsibilities he has now, which include overseeing the public works, environmental services and planning and development departments. Some of his duties, including retail recruitment, would shift to the second assistant city manager.
The second assistant would take on various economic development roles, including overseeing parks and recreation, the library and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which Garza proposed should become its own department rather than remaining joined with the city communications department. The person would also serve as staff support for the sales tax development corporation.
The total initial cost of adding the second assistant city manager role would be $200,000, which would include salary and benefits, training, travel, memberships and office and equipment costs. Garza proposed that the funding sources for the position would be the city’s general fund, the Hotel Occupancy Tax and the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation.
Mayor Rawley McCoy asked Garza whether he feels the restructuring would give him avenues to have more interaction with staff on each level and ultimately give him greater expectations for staff.
“Absolutely,” Garza said. “There’s only so many hours in a day, and again, with a city of our size, it’s beneficial to have that second support person.”
Garza’s presentation was preliminary, and no action was taken by the council Tuesday. The discussion will return to the council when the city’s budget is finalized.
Also Tuesday, the council approved a resolution to end an agreement between the city and the Texas Department of Transportation that has been in place since 2011.
In early 2011, the city and TxDOT entered an agreement that obligated TxDOT to make certain payments to the city as reimbursement for constructing two Loop 463 overpasses at Salem Road and Mockingbird Lane.
When the city proposed the overpass project, the state transportation department did not have the necessary funds to move it forward, city spokesman O.C. Garza said previously. TxDOT agreed to have the city fund the project and then reimburse the city with annual payments.
Since the first payment in 2014, TxDOT has paid the city about $8.1 million in annual installments and was scheduled to pay an additional $11.1 million by 2025. But the council’s vote Tuesday approved amending the contract to give TxDOT a discounted rate and take a one-time payment of about $9.5 million, some of which will be used to pay off the bonds for the project.