ARGYLE — Town Council members are in the process of scheduling a planning retreat that officials say will allow the council, staff and other officials to strategically plan the town’s growth.
On Tuesday night, the council approved an expenditure of no more than $3,500 to hire a consultant who will moderate strategic discussions and help officials identify specific town needs. The council tentatively plans to hold the retreat Nov. 15 or 16 at Town Hall.
Mayor Peggy Krueger, who said she ran for mayor with hopes of promoting growth, said that she’s looking forward to the retreat and that it’s a step the town needs to take.
Trent Petty, Argyle’s economic development official, said he believes that in years past it has been hard getting council members on the same page. He said a divide among council members in recent years and council turnover each election have hindered the process.
“[The process] does get undermined if there has been a lot of turnover,” he said. “When that happens, we have to backtrack each year. I do think that this year we have a good council to get things moving.”
In the fall of 2012, a few controversies seemed to split the council in the days leading up to the last retreat. In October 2012, the retreat was held in the home of former County Commissioner Jim Carter, which was met with some opposition by local residents and some council members.
By the next town meeting, controversy arose again. Former Mayor Matt Smith, who was appointed town manager by a 3-2 vote, accused the town secretary of failing to perform the duties assigned to her, which her attorney disputed.
Those accusations were dismissed.
Allegations also were made against the town’s financial director, who was accused of misappropriating funds for a retirement party for former Town Manger Lyle Dresher. Those accusations also were dismissed after a defense by Town Attorney Matthew Boyle.
This year, almost half of the council members are newly elected and the town has a permanent town manager, a position that was vacant most of last year or held by an interim.
Councilman Jeff Cantrell said he’s looking forward to hashing out goals with other council members to spark dialogue.
“This is a good chance to plan and get us on autopilot,” he said.
Town officials said the retreat will focus more on outcome, instead of process.
Petty said it will help strengthen team-building among staff and town officials.
Council members said they plan to hold the retreat at Town Hall so that the public can attend and observe.
“The opportunity is now,” Petty said. “We’re hoping to come out of this with a set of printed policies, objectives and goals.”
Other agenda items
On Tuesday night, the Argyle town manager reported that Corral City terminated a contract for police services from Argyle, which resulted in $15,000 budget shortfall.
Town Manager Charles West said the shortfall since has been addressed through a restructuring of personnel, which eliminated two positions — the town secretary and a clerical worker.
The budget was adopted in September by council members, who said they believed it was balanced at the time it was presented.
“It got pulled from underneath our feet at the last minute,” West told council members Tuesday.
West said the city also has a slight surplus of revenue that has helped offset the loss.
Officials took time during the council meeting to recognize five students from the Argyle school district. Cantrell said he wants to make the recognition a standing council presentation.
He said it’s amazing what the recognized students are accomplishing and that it reflects positively on the town.
Many of the students recognized serve as mentors, athletes, leaders and band members. The students were recognized for their work with at-risk elementary school children. The students said many of the younger children don’t have a support system at home to encourage them to do well in school.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @Jdharden.