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Lake Dallas city manager put on administrative leave

LAKE DALLAS — The Lake Dallas City Council voted unanimously to place City Manager Matt Shaffstall on paid administrative leave effective immediately during its regular meeting Thursday night.

Matt Shaffstall, Lake Dallas city managerCourtesy photo
Matt Shaffstall, Lake Dallas city manager
Courtesy photo

After a nearly two-hour long discussion in closed session regarding Shaffstall, the four-member  council also voted unanimously to promote City Secretary Codi Delcambre to the role of acting city manager in his absence. 

The council was down one member during the vote because Place 3 member Steve Forgey resigned earlier in the evening. He said he hopes to travel more with his family.

The move comes on the heels of recent newspaper stories detailing a potential misuse of funds when Shaffstall worked as the city administrator of Willow Park, located in Parker County near Weatherford.

While he couldn't legally say what was discussed in the closed session, Lake Dallas City Attorney Kevin Laughlin cautioned against jumping to the conclusion that the issues in Willow Park "had anything to do with this decision."

According to the Weatherford Democrat, former Willow Park Mayor Pro Tem Gene Martin alleged during his last council meeting in May that Shaffstall had used public funds inappropriately by providing tuition reimbursement to former Public Works Director Steve Martin.

Gene Martin said he found the city had reimbursed Steve Martin $18,033 for tuition since August 2014, but an August 2016 memo written by Steve Martin said he was reimbursed $17,957.

Gene Martin also said the city didn't have a tuition assistance program in its employment policy. The former council member asked for an investigation into the matter, but current Willow Park City Administrator Scott Wall said there was no ongoing investigation regarding the tuition reimbursement.

However, the latest Willow Park financial audit from the Weatherford-based accounting firm of George, Morgan and Sneed says the city is investigating a January 2016 equipment purchase while Shaffstall was city administrator.

The audit shows the city purchased one pickup and one dump truck totaling $131,877, but failed to follow a competitive bidding process as required by state law. The accounting firm also pointed out 43 errors made in Willow Park's financial statements. By contrast, the latest Lake Dallas audit from the same fiscal year had no errors.

When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Shaffstall said he didn't think it was appropriate to comment on the affairs of another city. He was unavailable for comment following the decision made at Thursday's meeting.

Laughlin said the council would most likely call a special meeting later this month to make a final decision on Shaffstall's future with Lake Dallas.

The council voted unanimously in July 2016 to hire Shaffstall after a months-long search by Keller-based firm Strategic Government Services. He is currently under a two-year contract with a $95,000 annual base salary.

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.