Elackatt voted no, wanting to promote from within
By Elsa Maxey
City consultant Alan Mueller has been named Missouri City’s interim city manager. City council voted last Monday for the move with only Councilmember Robin Elackatt opposing.
“I felt a push about trying to get him (Mueller) and believe that the city has the talent internally to have someone assume the role,” said Elackatt. “After all, in the absence of the city manager for whatever reason in any city organization, shouldn’t there be someone internally to take the helm, someone being trained to be second in command?” Elackatt, who said the city needs to be prepared to tap someone from within even for emergency situations, said he does not have anything against Mueller, but said he questioned the move to readily appoint the consultant rather than to consider other options, someone who has a longer history with the city.
“Nobody asked any questions and it felt like a done deal to me,” he said referring to the council action item. Elackatt also told the “Star” that these trying economic times require creative and efficient financial strategies to maximize the taxpayer’s dollar.
Missouri City with a staff of over 300, has two assistant city managers. One of them, Bill Atkinson, hired in 2007, brought over 13 years experience as a city manager, according to information on the city’s website. Scott Elmer, recently appointed to a newly created assistant city manager position last month, has worked as the city’s Director of Public Works/City Engineer since 2006; in 2000, he was Assistant Director/City Engineer; and he started his career with the city in 1995. Elackatt mentioned that these are typically second in command roles. During previous city manager absences, other executive team chiefs left in charge have included former Police Chief Ron Echols and Finance Director Wes Vela.
This Monday, the city confirmed that Mueller will start his new job on June 11, and assistant city manager Atkinson will serve until then, as determined by Mayor Allen Owen, who according to city charter would otherwise be the chief administrative officer before the interim city manager’s term begins. In Mueller’s absence during his time in office, he will designate someone to serve as Acting City Manager, according to the city.
Neither the work hours relating to whether the position will be full time nor rate of pay has been determined and is pending an agreement to be discussed July 5. Under the city’s current consulting agreement with Mueller, his compensation as a consultant is $125 an hour, reports the city.
Mueller, a consultant in the private sector since 2005, has 16 years experience working for Texas city governments, including serving as a city manager in Gainsville from April 1995 – Oct. 1996, and deputy city manager in Pearland. For the past six months, he’s been “overseeing research, analysis and studies on annexation, economic development and development services” in Missouri City. He recently furnished results of a study for Sienna Plantation’s annexation projected to take place in 2026.
Mayor Allen Owen said that having Mueller serve as interim city manager will allow the city’s senior management team to concentrate on key projects. “We anticipate Alan will be in this interim position for four to five months, and he will not be a candidate for the position,” he said. The city reports that a public sector firm will conduct a nationwide city manager search.
Mueller takes over the functions of City Manager Frank Simpson, who announced his resignation in May to take an assistant city manager position in College Station. Simpson will join former Sugar Land city manager David Neely, the city manager in College Station, and assistant city attorney Mary Ann Powell, with whom he formerly worked, when she was the City Attorney in Missouri City. Simpson’s last day on the job is this week.