The Bellmead City Council appointed Mayor William B. Ridings on Wednesday to serve as acting city manager, after passing on two candidates who interviewed for the interim position.
Council member Gary Moore said he wants to consult with Texas First Group Replacement Services to see if an interim manager provided by the company would cost less than a local interim hire. The Leakey-based company fills interim administrative positions for cities and other municipalities, including city managers, police and fire chiefs, city secretaries, planners, engineers and utility directors.
Before appointing Ridings to serve so that normal city operations can continue until the next council meeting, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23, the council held closed-door interviews with former Hewitt City Manager Adam Miles and former Woodway City Manager Yost Zakhary. Each lasted about an hour.
They were the council’s first interviews for the position since Bellmead City Manager Bo Thomas announced he was leaving, effective Thursday, for Miles’ old city manager job in Hewitt.
Council member Travis Gibson made a motion to appoint Zakhary, which failed 3-3 with Moore and council members Doss Youngblood and James Cleveland opposing. Then, a motion to appoint Miles failed 3-3 with the same council members opposing it.
Gibson, Ridings and Mayor Pro Tem Alfreda Love voted in favor of each hire.
After the council passed on both candidates, City Attorney Charles Buenger told council members that city employees had concerns about being able to continue normal operations with no city manager in place.
“We have things that are going to have to be signed or the city is going to stop,” Buenger said.
After some discussion, the council agreed to appoint Ridings as acting city manager.
Council member Travis Gibson said he was frustrated but agreed to vote in favor of Ridings as acting city manager only because operations must continue.
“We have some idiots on this city council that don’t give a s--- about the city of Bellmead,” Gibson said.
Ridings asked that Miles and Zakhary return to the Jan. 23 council meeting.
Before Wednesday’s meeting, Miles said he appreciates the city of Bellmead taking the time to visit with him.
“I think I can help them in a couple areas,” Miles said.
Zakhary said Thomas has done a good job as city manager over the years and he believes he could keep the city headed in the right direction. He said he would not be interested in becoming the city’s permanent manager.
“I’m just looking to help them during the transition until they find a permanent one,” Zakhary said.
The Hewitt City Council voted 5-1 on Dec. 17 to hire Thomas away from Bellmead as city manager.
When Miles left the Hewitt position in November, he had pending complaints against the Hewitt mayor and city council members. He alleged Hewitt Mayor Ed Passalugo committed an Open Meetings Act violation, potentially a Class C misdemeanor. He received $88,000 from the city as part of his departure.
Zakhary resigned as Woodway city manager in April after 39 years with the city. His resignation followed a city internal investigation into an employee’s complaints that Zakhary sexually harassed her and fostered a hostile work environment. The city settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with the woman in July for $50,000.