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Local News

June 18, 2012

Bill Shipp steps down as city manager

ROYSE CITY — City Manager Bill Shipp resigned Saturday morning, avoiding the possibility of disciplinary action “up to and including removal” as a result of his evaluation on June 12.

After the city council voted 5-2 to accept Shipp’s resignation at a special called meeting, council members voted unanimously to name Police Chief Carl Alsabrook and Economic Development Executive Director Larry Lott as co-interim city managers.

City council members could not comment on what led to the possibility of disciplinary action against the three-year city manager. Council members are prohibited from discussing what occurs behind closed doors during executive sessions.

The first public mention of disciplinary action involving Shipp came on June 12 after city council members met in executive session to evaluate the city manager’s job performance.

After the closed door meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Janet Nichol made a motion that called for a Saturday morning special meeting to consider “disciplinary action up to and including termination as a result of the city manager’s evaluation.”

Shipp submitted his letter of resignation to Mayor Jerrell Baley Saturday morning. A short time later, the city council voted to accept Shipp’s resignation by a 5-2 vote. Baley and Tom Crowley cast the only “no” votes to the resignation.

As Baley moved to item No. 2 on the agenda, Shipp interrupted.

“Mr. Mayor, if I may,” he said. “I just want to thank you. I want to thank you for the privilege of serving the last three years and I wish you all nothing but the best. I truly do. I’m going to step down at this point.”

He then shook hands with each council member and the mayor before leaving the room.

The Herald-Banner contacted Shipp later in the day.

“I have nothing but positive things to say about the city,” Shipp said. “I enjoyed my time here and I believe we made some very positive strides.”

Shipp said the city council wanted to go in a “new direction with new leadership.”

He would not comment on what prompted the city council to consider his removal.

Shipp was Commerce city manager for five years and retired in April of 2008. He was hired as city manager in Royse City a year later.

“Bill Shipp is a class person and it was time for the city to move in a new direction,” Councilman Bill Bell said after the meeting.

Councilman James Branch’s comment was very similar:

“Bill Shipp is a very classy guy. I appreciate his service to the community, but I feel like it was time to go in a new direction. Royse City has so much potential and I look forward to the future and the new beginning.”

Branch was asked what brought the city council to the point of considering the city manager’s “removal.”

“Well, I think there were a number of things that led up to today’s meeting, but unfortunately, I’m going to have to defer to the city attorney for any in-depth explanation.”

The Herald-Banner asked each city council member to respond by email. They were given the opportunity to make any comments about Shipp and any statement about what led up to the possible “removal” action.

Only Councilman Tom Crowley responded to the email request.

“I am saddened that Bill has stepped down at this time,” Crowley stated in the email. “When hired in 2009, he facilitated the realignment and streamlining of our city government structure, and while following on the heels of some difficult financial times for the city, according to our most recent audit, he was responsible for steering the city on a track to greater fiscal stability.

“Not only did I respect Bill as our city manager, I also looked to him as a friend and sought his advice on many city matters. I truly regret his having resigned. I wish he and Susan the best.”

After Shipp’s resignation, the city council heard a presentation by Tom Muehlenbeck of SGR (Strategic Government Resources), an executive search group. SGR is the company that was responsible for the city manager search when Shipp was hired. SGR also has been involved recently with city manager searches in Rockwall and Fate.

Muehlenbeck, former Plano city manager, said the cost would be $17,500 for a professional search “from start to finish.” There also would be charges not to exceed $6,500 for expenses. The search process will take 16 weeks, he said.

City Attorney Jason Day said Alsabrook had agreed to serve as co-city manager on an interim basis. There was no confirmation Monday morning whether Lott had agreed to serve on an interim basis with Alsabrook.

During a period of time before Shipp was hired, Lott and Day served as co-interim city managers.

 

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