The future of Flower Mound Town Manager Harlan Jefferson’s employment with the town is uncertain almost two weeks after he was placed on paid administrative leave by town council on Sept. 22. Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden recently sat down with The Cross Timbers Gazette to discuss the situation with Jefferson and debunk some rumors.
CTG: Some people are saying that Jefferson’s pending departure is somehow related to the proposed Lakeside Development.
TH: It’s not about any one development project. It’s about what we can do to put our town into a position to succeed. We had a survey done in 2007 for the people who do business with our town. We received low marks in being a place where businesses want to come and do development. We had a second survey in 2012 and again we got low marks. It’s not that our Town Manager isn’t aware of this. We’ve talked about this for years both independently and collectively. And we want it to change.
CTG: There is speculation that other members of the town’s staff may lose their jobs at the hands of town council. Is there any truth to that?
TH: There are four people who work for the town council: The Municipal Judge, the Town Manager, the Town Secretary and the Town Attorney. If anybody says that somebody is going to get fired by council, they haven’t read our Town Charter. Our job is to say to the Town Manager, “This is the direction we want our town to go.” It’s up to the Town Manager to do the implementation. Our job is to provide the goals and the objectives; their job is to provide the implementation. The Town Manager will decide who they need on their staff to achieve and accomplish those goals.
CTG: Why is town council looking to make a change in leadership?
TH: One of the strengths that Harlan has is a strong financial background and it served the town very well over the last six years. However, we have to figure out ways to grow the top line. We want to make some changes because we told our residents that we want to give them more opportunities for things to do in Flower Mound. We also want to be able to pay our staff members competitive salaries. At some point, we don’t want to be forced to have to raise property taxes. Our tax base is primarily based on aging residential housing stock. If we don’t do things to diversify our tax base, ultimately we will not be able to maintain town services or add amenities in the future. So we are at a point in time where we want someone with a different perspective. Mr. Jefferson has worked for the town of Flower Mound for the last 15 years and this is the way that things have always been done. We want a fresh perspective.
CTG: Will a possible settlement with Jefferson have a significant financial impact on the town?
TH: I don’t know what the outcome is going to be regarding any type of severance for Mr. Jefferson. Nothing has been settled yet. I will tell you that a year from now the town’s reserve fund will be higher than it is today. Any settlement will not leave the town in a financial quagmire.
CTG: Anything else you would like to add?
TH: This is not easy for anybody on town council. Nobody on council likes what we are going through. No one on council has any personal malice towards Harlan Jefferson, he is a very nice person. What’s being considered at the moment is to put Flower Mound in the best position for the future.