Lake Dallas Police Chief Nick Ristagno has been named city manager after nearly a year of serving as interim manager.
The appointment was made effective Tuesday by Lake Dallas City Council members, who made the decision as they began putting together the city’s 2013-14 budget earlier this year.
Ristagno will continue to serve as police chief, which Mayor Tony Marino said is nothing new. Ristagno has served in the dual position at least four times before in his more than 20 years of service to Lake Dallas, with the most recent being in 2004.
“He still works on both sides of the aisle,” Marino said. “It’s a savings to the city and we’re happy with our decision.”
According to city officials, Ristagno signed a two-year contract to serve as city manager.
Marino said the city manager and police chief positions will probably split again when Ristagno’s contract ends and the city is in a better financial position.
The decision to combine the positions was partially made because of the economy, Marino said. He said the city has gone through rough times but is ready to move forward with a positive budget outlook.
For months, Ristagno has served as interim city manager, and Marino said he’s been doing an “excellent job,” adding that it only made sense to give him the official title.
“We wanted to give him the title because it’s also more professional when dealing with businesses and developers,” Marino said. “It gives another level of authority.”
Last month, the mayor and council unanimously adopted the new fiscal year budget, which was prepared under Ristagno’s guidance.
The budget showed evidence of a positive climb from the past few years of financial hardship and deficit, according to city officials.
Marino said he and the council have observed Ristagno’s prudent stewardship of the city’s finances.
“He’s committed to doing what’s best for the city — that’s why this decision is what’s best instead of searching for someone outside of the city,” Marino said.
Ristagno joined Lake Dallas in 1992 as police chief and was once recognized as the youngest chief of police in Texas, according to a Lake Dallas press release.
Ristagno couldn’t be reached by press time Wednesday, but in a press release, he stated it has been a pleasure to serve the Lake Dallas community and that he will enjoy serving in a dual capacity.
The City Council had selected Ristagno as the interim city manager after the retirement of former City Manager Earl Berner in December 2012.
Berner replaced Ristagno, who had served as interim city manager after the City Council fired a previous city manager in 2004.
“We know Ristagno. We know what he is capable of and he’s committed to the city,” Marino said.
Ristagno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 940-497-2226, ext. 110.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.