EDC Executive Director’s future in question
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The future for Liberty Hill Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Lance Dean is unclear following a meeting Feb. 20 when the EDC Board voted not to renew his contract.
In a 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 executive session.
“We wanted to do some changing on (the contract) and all that was in closed session,” Johnston said. “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 versus negotiate changes through the renewal process, Johnston insisted it was necessary to vote to non-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 is 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 he hopes to clear the issue up soon.
“What we’re concentrating on is Lance is still there and we need to get the contract reworked and about that time we’ll get Lance’s self evaluation and do our own evaluation also,” Harkrider said. “I have no inclination to let Lance go, we just need to get the contract set up, then we will discuss it at some point.”
But neither Harkrider or Johnston would say whether the contract changes are being made to create a new contract for Dean or if this move signaled a change in the Executive Director’s position.
The decision leaves Dean in limbo with a contract that expires at the end of March and no public indication about whether he might be offered a new contract following any possible changes.
Dean declined to comment on the issue, but had not expected the renewal of his contract to be an issue.
Mayor Rick Hall refused to comment on the decisions of the EDC Board, saying he was unaware of the Board’s plan.
“I have no clue. That is the EDC’s decision,” Hall said. “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.”
In attendance at the meeting were EDC Board members Johnston, Harkrider, John Clark, City Council Member Liz Rundzieher and Eric Bailey. Steve Snell and Jamie Etzkorn were not present.
By press time Wednesday, the City had not provided the wording for the motion made at the meeting or the breakdown of the vote on the measure.
The Independent was unaware of the meeting as the required posting to the City’s website never appeared.
City Secretary Barbara Zwernemann responded by email to a request for the motion and breakdown of the vote Wednesday morning with an explanation of why the posting of the meeting did not show up on the City’s website.
“Last week our server was down. In conjunction with that, I couldn’t get into CIVICPlus; we couldn’t even access areas on our computer until repairs were made. The agenda was posted at Municipal Court in a timely and appropriate manner.”
State law requires the notice be posted online as well as at the site of the scheduled meeting.
According to Texas Government Code, “Section 551.056 requires certain governmental bodies and economic development corporations to post notice on their Internet websites, in addition to other postings required by the Act. This provision applies to the following entities, if the entity maintains an Internet website or has a website maintained for it: a municipality; a county; a school district…”
The EDC was notified this week that for the third consecutive year it was being honored through the Texas Economic Development Council’s Economic Excellence Recognition program.
Recipients qualify for recognition based on training taken by their governing board/council as well as the economic development director and professional staff. Certifications, professional memberships and activities, and organizational effectiveness of the economic development staff also contribute to the standards for qualification.