by SEAN KIMMONS
The Kyle City Council unanimously chose James Earp, the city’s assistant city manager, as interim city manager following a two-hour executive session in Tuesday night’s specially called meeting.
Earp, who has been the assistant city manager since September 2006, takes over the city staff’s highest position a week after the city council honored former City Manager Tom Mattis’ resignation.
The council approved 5-2 to supplement Earp with a $3,000 monthly stipend on top of his current pay while the city searches for a new city manager. Councilmembers Jaime Sanchez and Russ Huebner dissented.
“One of the biggest concerns that the council had was keeping continuality and moving forward in the interim stage,” Mayor Lucy Johnson said after the meeting. “We felt that James, being a staff member and being up to date, would be best able.”
The move was also more cost efficient than hiring someone from the outside, Johnson said.
Buda resident Jeff Coffee, a former Elgin city manager and Buda councilmember, was the other applicant interviewed for the position.
Earp believed that he was chosen because of his knowledge of what Kyle is facing today.
“We’re going into budget time,” he said. “It’s a good time to rely on your staff.”
In his experience, he expects that it could take the city six to nine months to find a city manager, unless they hire an internal applicant. He said he was still unsure if he will apply for the job.
“I’m going to have to weigh my options,” he said. “I’d be interested, excited and honored to be able to serve but we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there.”
Mattis’ next step is unclear. He has applied for an open city manager position in Harlingen, Texas, according to Harlingen city officials, who didn’t say when they plan to select a candidate.
City managers are frequently lighting rods for controversy, and Mattis’ strong personality gained him both supporters and enemies over his eight years – an exceptionally long term of service in a position that typically has quick turnover.
SEAN KIMMONS is senior reporter at the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Mercury and the Free Press.