City Manager Dale Fisseler announced Tuesday he will retire in six months, but he’s not going far.

Fisseler will end four years as the city’s top executive in March, but he expects he will continue to be involved in community service activities in his native Waco when he’s not playing with his grandchildren or fishing from his houseboat at Lake Waco.

Fisseler made the announcement at a Waco City Council meeting Tuesday, choking up a little as he thanked the council and his staff.

“I will do everything I can to make this a smooth transition,” he told the council. “I think we have a great executive team. I’ve always believed in term limits when it involves me. I’m looking forward to retiring again.”

Fisseler told the council about his decision in a letter Sept. 5.

“This is my first chance to say, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Mayor Kyle Deaver said Tuesday.

“I know my wife is,” Fisseler answered.

“We have tried to talk Dale out of retirement, but we acknowledge that you’ve earned it,” Deaver said. “We’ve been blessed to have Dale the last four years. He’s had the hometown interest and experience at larger cities. He’s done a great job for us.”

Deaver said the council will be working on a transition plan in the coming months.

Fisseler started as deputy city manager in his native Waco in 2011, shortly after retiring as city manager in Fort Worth. In 2014, he replaced retiring Waco City Manager Larry Groth.

Fisseler, 58, grew up in Waco and graduated from Richfield High School in 1977, then got an engineering degree from Texas A&M University, following in the footsteps of his father, former state highway engineer Les Fisseler.

Fisseler spent three decades rising to the top ranks of municipal government in Dallas and Fort Worth but said the Waco position is “the best city manager job in the country.”

In Waco he has overseen the city as it started a major replacement of utility lines and saw a new era of downtown development. Deputy City Manager Wiley Stem III, who has overseen the infrastructure campaign, credited Fisseler with the vision for it.

“Waco has been very fortunate to have him,” Stem said. “I’ve worked for David Smith, Larry Groth and Dale Fisseler. If that’s not a dream team, I don’t know what is. He’s been a great leader. He’s guided us with really great ideas.”

Fisseler said he is proud of an improved city bond rating and a strong team of assistant city managers and department heads.

“I feel really good about where the city is heading,” he said, adding that it’s not easy to step down, but the time is right.

“I always had a goal to retire before I was 60,” he said. “This allows me to do that two times and still have 18 months left over.”

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J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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