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Granite Shoals to review interim’s performance for city manager job

Samantha Ortis

Granite Shoals Place 3 Councilor Samantha Ortis voices her frustration with the City Council's indecisiveness after months of back-and-forth over the city manager search process. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Granite Shoals City Council will conduct an in-depth performance review of Interim City Manager Peggy Smith as councilors consider her for the permanent job. The public meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road.

The city will release the meeting’s agenda on Friday, March 3. It could include language for taking action on naming Smith as city manager. 

The move was proposed during the council’s Feb. 14 regular meeting over continuing a city manager search with executive recruitment firm Strategic Government Resources. The firm was hired in October 2022 with a $27,000 contract after months of deliberation by the council.

During its Feb. 28 meeting, the council voted 5-2 to hold the March 7 special meeting. Garcia and Councilor Samantha Ortis opposed the decision.

Councilors recently paused the city manager search after Mayor Aaron Garcia approved a job description and the opening’s posting without consulting the City Manager Search Committee, which he formed for that purpose. Afterward, Garcia voluntarily stepped down as chairman of the committee, handing the reins to Councilor Ron Munos on Feb. 14.

Munos proposed the idea of in-depth performance review of Smith after the council debated the merits of hiring her versus continuing the search.

“There are pro-Peggy people and anti-Peggy people,” Munos said. “It’s a tough situation and a tough decision, and I am kind of floundering on which way the council wants to go.”

Ortis countered Munos’ point, saying the council has already essentially seen Smith’s work over the past year. She was appointed interim city manager after Jeff Looney was fired from the position in June 2022.

“What has happened in the last eight months has essentially been her working interview,” she said. “It’s not anti-Peggy or pro-Peggy. It’s ‘What are we doing for the citizens?’ We all love Peggy. It’s ‘What’s best for the city?’

The council waffled for months on the best route to take in hiring a new city manager before selecting SGR to conduct a nationwide search in October 2022. Several council members expressed support for Smith in July 2022 but decided in September to broaden the search while encouraging Smith to apply. 

The city of Granite Shoals has paid $8,301 of its $27,000 contract with SGR and has the option of terminating the contract without being on the hook for the remaining amount with at least seven days’ notice. It has been suggested to hire Smith as city manager and use the firm to search for assistant city manager and financial officer candidates. Both of those positions are also open.

Smith’s proponents cited her experience and education as qualifications for the permanent position. She has been the assistant city manager and public works director for Granite Shoals since 2013 and was the city’s utilities director from 2008-12. She was a water treatment consultant for Cottonwood Shores from 2007-09, a quality assurance officer for Environmental Lab of Texas from 2004-07, and an environmental service manager for the city of Odessa from 1988-2004. 

Smith has Master of Business Administration and Master of Science degrees from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and numerous water management certifications.