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Red Oak city council rebuilding after firings and resignation

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KELLIE ROBINSON
The Ellis County Press
RED OAK - After months of tension among the council members, the mayor and the city manager, following an investigation into the possible setting of quotas within the police department, the June 25 special meeting of the Red Oak city council offered little in the way of drama.

Mayor Pro Tem Ben Goodwyn oversaw the proceedings in his first meeting as acting mayor.

Once the meeting was called to order, the council wasted no time getting business underway and began the process of rebuilding a functioning city government by appointing Todd Fuller interim city manager.

Fuller is the director of economic development for the city of Red Oak and was chosen by council as directed by the city charter.

The charter states, 'The City Manager, within thirty (30) days after taking office, shall designate by letter filed with the City Secretary, a qualified administrative officer of the City to perform the duties of the City Manager in his absence or disability. (4.15a)'

'Should the need for an Acting City Manager occur prior to the City Manager submitting a designee or prior to the Council's approval of the City Manager's designee, the Council shall appoint an Acting City Manager. (4.15b)'

As Ken Pfeifer, the city manager fired by council at the June 19 meeting, had never appointed an acting city manager to take over his duties in his absence the council was forced to make the decision.

Casey Hargrove, Place 4, moved to appoint Fuller as acting city manager, which Andy Bell, Place 5, seconded.
The motion passed unanimously and without discussion.

'I have known Todd for 6 years. He has the technical qualifications as well as the unique qualification of knowing this particular City's situation. Todd brings an additional attribute of common sense that has been sorely missing and I think the citizens and employees will be happy with the result,' said Hargrove of why he voted for Fuller.
The council was also charged with accepting the resignation of the Mayor Ron Bryce, which occurred on June 20 following the firing of the city manager and city attorney.
There was no discussion on the matter and the council voted 5-0 to accept the resignation.

The Dallas Water Supply Transmission Main - Phase 2 was also discussed, which will be a 36 inch water line from Lancaster on Danieldale Road to the Methodist Pump Station in Red Oak to accommodate the ever-growing water needs of the city.

Section one of the water line is currently under construction and is also a 36 inch water line.

A 30 inch line was discussed, but the engineers said they felt a 36 inch water line was more cost-efficient and better for the long term needs of Red Oak.

The total cost of construction is estimated to be $9,861,828.73, though the available funds for the project are only $9,245,784.80, leaving the project $616,043.93 over budget.

To remedy this, the city staff recommended transferring funds from the Deer Creek project, which would have given the annexed area a link to the city sewer.

'The Deer Creek project was halted after receiving letters from the affected property owners indicating a lack of interest in this project,' stated Gina Garcia, city engineer, in a letter to the council.

'The remaining balance, as of June 2007, stands at $676,226.50. The City has received permission from the Bond Counsel to transfer this money to the DWU Line & Meter Station Construction. By transferring $676,226.50 to the DWU Line, the shortage can be eliminated.'

Council approved this transfer 5-0.

S.J. Lewis Construction of Texas, Ltd. was chosen as the contractor for the water line, as they had the lowest bid of three bids with $6,539,783.28.

Once again, council approved this matter with little discussion and no dissenting votes.

Fuller presented a list of 'immediate concerns and priorities' for the city, which included identifying and retaining a new city attorney, identifying and hiring a new police chief, approving bids and funds for the water line project, completing right-of-way and easement acquisitions for the street and sewer projects, begin the city manager search process and several other projects.

Each council member presented a list of issues he found to be of pressing concern for the city, though all agreed the first order of business was to find a new city attorney.

Goodwyn closed the meeting by saying, 'We're setting priorities, getting people in place that we need to have in place; we're not sitting still.

'If you think that this city council has no leadership you'd better check your reality, because we're going to move forward, this city is going forward and we're going to accomplish a great deal.

'The biggest sin that staff can have right now is doing nothing. Let's get busy, let's get off of it and let's move. Let's get this city going.'

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