Mart city leaders were considering dissolving their charter when Henry Witt III moved from Round Rock back to the area where he graduated high school and spent much of his youth.
Five years since he moved back and won a spot on the city council, the city is financially stable, has received a multi-million-dollar grant to overhaul infrastructure and is on the verge of becoming a regional water supplier, Witt said. With that turnaround in his wake, the Mart City Council is set to accept his resignation as mayor pro tem on Monday.
Witt, 38, has started a new job and has moved out of Mart, requiring him to step down.
“Yes, it is very difficult for me to step away, but I know that my efforts have always been to better the quality of lives for the people in the city of Mart,” Witt said. “I’m very confident in the people who we have in leadership positions right now in the community and the city council and I am confident in their ability to continue to carry that flag.”
City Manager Kevin Schaffer said Witt was one of the original members of the “Save Our City” campaign in 2013 in the city 18 miles east of Waco on State Highway 164.
“He’s done stuff that people said couldn’t be done,” Schaffer said, referring to a $17.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant that will allow the city to overhaul its water system and many of its streets. “I think he took that as a challenge and he’s going out on a high note here.”
At the 6:30 p.m. meeting Monday, the council will interview a handful of candidates to fill the vacancy, Schaffer said. The city council then will have the option to appoint a new member to fill the at-large seat, he said. Schaffer declined to release the candidates’ names.
The term for Witt’s seat ends in May.
Monday’s meeting could mark the second council appointment since the May election.
Schaffer stepped down from the council in June, two months after his re-election, to take the newly-created city administrator position. The city council chose Haley Pankonien as Schaffer’s replacement on the council.
The city council brought back the city administrator position, which had been eliminated in the early 2000s.
Witt has actively encouraged Mart’s revitalization and pushed for community engagement, and the Mart High School graduate may continue to help guide current projects to fruition in another voluntary role.
Schaffer will present the idea of an unpaid chief planning officer position to the council during the meeting Monday, with the intention of having Witt fill the role. The new position would allow Witt to continue to help with the USDA grant project and related plans to increase the city’s water production, an effort that would let the city sell water to other supply companies in the vicinity.
Witt said he has worked on the USDA project longer than any other project in his career and he is determined to see it through if the council will have him.