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Ristagno to fill Berner’s position

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

Lake Dallas City Council names police chief as interim city manager

LAKE DALLAS — City officials appointed the police chief as the interim city manager Thursday, and officials said they will not seek a permanent replacement until the 2013-14 fiscal year.

After City Manager Earl Berner’s retirement, City Council members appointed Police Chief Nick Ristagno as the interim city manager, delegating administrative duties between him and City Secretary Joni Vaughn.

“There are no immediate plans to fill the position,” Ristagno said. “The City Council, with knowledge that Mr. Berner was planning to retire, decided to not budget for the position in the fiscal 2013 budget.”

Ristagno said the City Council will consider how and when to proceed with a search for the city manager during the 2013-14 budget process.

Mayor Tony Marino said Ristagno and Vaughn will handle administrative duties such as preparing meeting agendas and addressing any issues that may arise during normal city operations.

“Until then, I will fill the interim position as I have done four or five times in the past,” Ristagno said.

Officials said no other plans have been discussed at this time.

Berner retired from his position as city manager last week after serving in the position for more than eight years. Berner said serving Lake Dallas was a great end to a 40-year career in public service.

“We accomplished a lot during my time here,” Berner said during a Sept. 27 council meeting after he announced his plans to retire. “I’ve enjoyed my time here.”

Berner said that in his eight years, the city has had its share of challenges and successes.He said the city struggled for the last three to four years because of the economic downturn, but he said the city is recovering well.

Berner was the economic development director of Fairfax, Va., before he was hired by Lake Dallas in 2004.

Berner replaced Ristagno, who served as interim city manager, after the City Council fired the previous city manager earlier that year.

According to Berner’s resume, he had worked for the city of Fairfax from 1985 to 2004. From 1969 to 1977, he served in the U.S. Army and left the Army with the rank of captain.

He received a bachelor’s degree in public administration in 1969 from California State University-Fresno and a master’s degree in public service from Western Kentucky University in 1976.

Berner said he moved to North Texas to live closer to his son and grandchildren.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is .