Dean out as EDC head

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The Liberty Hill Economic Development Corporation (EDC) voted Monday to accept the resignation of Executive Director Lance Dean — nearly a month after the Board voted not to renew his contract.

The resignation is effective March 27. Dean was hired in March 2017.

The vote was unanimous, with Director Steve Snell absent, and followed a 50-minute executive session on the matter.

As part of the motion accepting the resignation, the Board also “authorized the EDC Board President to enter into a consulting services agreement on the terms discussed in executive session.”

On Monday, The Independent requested details from the City on the consulting services agreement, including who it was with, but did not receive a response by press time Wednesday.

The Board put Dean’s future with the Liberty Hill EDC in question at a Feb. 20 meeting when it voted not to renew his contract.

In that meeting, called for the sole purpose of discussing the issue in executive session, the Board chose not to renew the contract – which is structured to be renewed annually – based on the desire to make changes to that contract.

According to Board President John Johnston, no details of the decision could be shared because the issue was a personnel matter taken up in closed session.

“We wanted to do some changing on (the contract), and all that was in closed session,” Johnston said at that time. “To do that, the first thing we have to do is not renew it if we’re going to change it. It was all stuff in closed session so I really can’t talk to you about it.”

When asked why the Board chose not to renew the contract as opposed to negotiating changes through the renewal process, Johnston insisted it was necessary to vote not to renew it.

“We didn’t want it to stand for another year,” he said. “We had to cancel so it would not renew.”

As far as what changes the Board was considering for the position or the contract, Johnston again cited his inability to disclose information regarding personnel matters discussed in closed session.

“(The changes have) yet to be determined,” he said. “(The) changes are up to the Board and we have not met to discuss those changes.”

Board member Jack Harkrider, one of three members tasked with looking at the contract and potential changes along with Johnston and John Clark, said at the time he hoped to clear the issue up soon, and said he had “no inclination to let Lance go,” adding, “we just need to get the contract set up then we will discuss it at some point.”

It is unknown whether the three members met to discuss potential contract changes between the Feb. 20 and March 16 meetings.

The decision left Dean in limbo with a contract expiring at the end of March and no public indication about whether he might be offered a new contract following any possible changes.

He declined to comment on the issue in February, but at the time said he had not expected the renewal of his contract to be an issue.

Dean could not be reached for comment following his resignation Monday.

Mayor Rick Hall refused to comment on the decisions of the EDC Board in February, saying he was unaware of the Board’s plan.

“I have no clue, that is the EDC’s decision,” Hall said in February. “They have their board that the position is reporting to and if they make any decision it will have to come to the Council for final approval, but no decision is to be made by the City before they bring it to us. In a nutshell, I have no comment.”

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