From the Sidelines – November 2012

Flower Mound Town Manager

Harlan Jefferson, Flower Mound Town Manager, has parted ways with the town.  From what I have been told, Town Managers can usually expect tenure of about 5 years before changes in town elected leadership creates a rift.  In active, thriving municipalities there are usually at least two factions with differing ideas about the direction that the town should take.  The town manager is required by law to observe the ordinances that are on the books. 

Since the faction in power writes the ordinances they are typically happy with the way things are going but when power shifts to the other group friction often occurs.  From that perspective, Harlan’s departure from Flower Mound should not be seen as unusual.  But I’ll miss him!

Flower Mound and Double Oak share a border.  Double Oak is a small, landlocked town.  All of our neighboring towns share many common problems.  Proximity requires the towns to work together to iron out situations cooperatively.  Harlan had been the Flower Mound’s Chief Financial Officer, and when former Town Manager Van James resigned, Mayor Jodie Smith persuaded Harlan to step up and take the post.  

I had many opportunities to work with Harlan and found him honorable, knowledgeable, very bright, and easy to work with.  We worked well together and from what an outsider can gather, his staff liked to work with him as well.  I am not worried about his future.  He will find another challenge and move on.

So will the town of Flower Mound.  In my view, they do a great job.  I marvel at the success of their development efforts.  The town staff is really great.  I have every expectation that the town will find another excellent candidate to take the reins and run the town.

It is healthy to change the boss on a regular basis.  That is why I tried to get Double Oak to establish term limits for Mayor.  I was unsuccessful in that effort.  Nevertheless I refused to ever run for a third term although I did come back for more after time off for good behavior.  I got my management training during my Navy career.  In those days, one could expect to move on every two years.  The feeling was that a “new broom sweeps clean”. 

In other words, when you start a new job it’s easy to see many ways to improve to operation.  After you are in a job for a while seeing need for change seems to diminish.  As capable as Mr. Jefferson has been, the lessons he’s learned in Flower Mound will help him in his next assignment.  His replacement in Flower Mound will have the chance for a fresh look.  It should be a win for both.

In the Navy, we would bless the outgoing skipper with “Fair Winds and Following Seas!”  We’ll miss you, friend Harlan, but I know that you will prosper.

New Fiscal Year

The first of October started a new year for most municipal governments including Double Oak.  For the treasurer, that brings a flurry of activity.  Our annual audit is in November as well as quarterly and annual financial reporting to Town Council.

I’ve been working at the financial reports and am gratified to state that we stayed within our budget with a few bucks of surplus to use this year.  It was not an easy year but the Town Council and staff kept the spending in check.  Good job guys!  This year will be even more challenging with higher spending somewhat inevitable yet with decreased property tax revenue.

In Double Oak as in many Texas municipalities, Town Council, the vital Boards and Commissions and yes, even the Treasurer, are volunteer jobs.  But it’s a labor of love as well as a continuing challenge.  When we’re faced with challenges we like to say, “That’s why we get paid these mega-bucks.”

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