Granite Shoals OKs city manager contract in 3-2 vote
The Granite Shoals City Council approved a contract with Peggy Smith on April 25, officially giving her the job of city manager after it selected her for the position on March 7.
The roll-call vote was 3-2 with councilors Kevin Flack, Michael Berg, and Phil Ort for and Mayor Aaron Garcia and Councilor Samantha Ortis against the immediate hire. Councilors Ron Munos and Steve Hougen were absent. Garcia and Ortis will be leaving the council after the May 6 election as neither filed for re-election.
Smith had served as interim city manager for eight months before she was selected for the full-time position. She took over after the council fired former City Manager Jeff Looney in June 2022.
The city signed a contract with executive recruitment firm Strategic Government Resources to find other applicants for the position, but that process was scrapped soon after in favor of going with Smith.
Garcia cited concerns over Smith’s potential involvement in using an unlicensed contractor to conduct plumbing inspections on the city’s behalf. Granite Shoals is currently under investigation by the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners after Garcia filed a complaint.
“I think that there should be an investigation into the situation concerning (Mike) Light (the unlicensed inspector) again,” Garcia told the council prior to the vote on Smith’s contract. “I think (the vote) should wait until after the State Board of Plumbing Examiners finishes their investigation, possibly even a subcommittee to investigate those claims, maybe even a third party.”
Ortis agreed with Garcia, adding that she also questioned a raise Smith gave herself without council knowledge or approval. She said the city could benefit from continuing the search for a city manager with an executive recruitment firm.
Berg spoke with DailyTrib.com after the meeting regarding his vote to approve the contract in light of the accusation against Smith concerning unlicensed plumbing inspections.
“I as an individual definitely want to ask more questions,” he said. “My vote was because we all met and agreed upon it. If the state is investigating, then let’s wait and see.”
Berg was referring to an April 11 executive session during which the council discussed Smith’s contract. He said five of the six council members present found it acceptable. Ortis was absent.
Smith’s newly approved contract comes to $150,000 a year. Her salary as assistant city manager was $103,000 a year. Her interim city manager’s salary was $140,000. She gave herself a 7 percent raise, or $10,009.60 more a year, in October 2022 without council approval.
The bump in pay came after the council approved 7 percent raises for all city employees, pending performance reviews, in the city’s 2022-23 fiscal budget. According to Ortis, Smith should have notified the council first. After the raise, Smith was making $150,009.60, roughly the same as her current contract.
“To me, it’s not OK,” Ortis told DailyTrib.com.
Smith responded to the council on March 31 with a written letter, outlining why she had followed through on the raise, citing her workload and the fact that members had already approved 7 percent raises in the budget.
“I am personally saddened and offended that shots continue to be taken at me after the city council voted to make me an offer,” reads Smith’s letter. “Even this week, I have had to respond to what I believe to be a frivolous and malicious complaint that Mayor Garcia filed against me in his capacity of mayor at the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners regarding Mike Light’s contracted services to the city.”
3 thoughts on “Granite Shoals OKs city manager contract in 3-2 vote”
The council received documented proof that Ms. Smith did not “give” herself a raise. Samantha Ortis needs to stop spreading lies.
The coverage of the April 25 Granite Shoals council reports nothing in regards to the many citizens concerns and anger over the way Mayor Garcia has been treated and the oversight of misconduct with the City manager. The article is very shallow. The citizens of Granite Shoals deserves the right to be heard. What’s happened to freedom of press. There are huge issues at stake and it’s a disapointment that Dakota is not writing the whole story.
DailyTrib.com has covered this story extensively, with three detailed pieces clearly giving both sides of the issue. They are linked in this latest story, but for convenience, here they are:
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