Less than a year ago, Sedrick Cole was running the city of Missouri City’s IT department.
Now, he’ll be overseeing the city’s $61.2 million general fund budget and staff of almost 400 full-time employees for the foreseeable future.
The city council last week in a 4-3 vote opted to keep Cole in place as the city’s interim city manager while it searches for a full-time replacement.
Mayor Robin Elackatt was joined by councilmembers Lynn Clouser, Anthony Maroulis and Floyd Emery in voting to keep Cole in the interim role, while council members Vashaundra Edwards, Monica Riley and Jeffrey Boney voted against the decision.
Like several other recent decisions in Missouri City, the vote did not pass without some controversy.
“I do want to make it clear that we’re getting ready to continue the contract for Mr. Sedrick Cole, and he doesn’t have the experience needed, and he doesn’t have the certifications needed for a city manager,” Edwards said ahead of the vote.
City leaders declined to make Cole available for a phone interview with the Fort Bend Star last week. But Cole provided written responses to several questions about his expanded role with the city.
“While I am overseeing city management, I am just one piece of the puzzle,” he wrote. “The city has a great leadership team and frontline employees who are dedicated to providing the support needed to help make this transition as smooth as possible.”
The city, however, has declined to provide information about who has remained part of the city’s administration since the council opted last month to fire former City Manager Charles “Tink” Jackson.
But there’s some evidence there’s been turnover since that vote.
A staff website page for deputy city manager Paula Ryan, for instance, has been deleted.
Elackatt has not responded to requests to discuss the turnover at city hall.
Missouri City has had a revolving door at city manager in recent years. The council in May opted to fire Jackson less than five months after his tenure began. The move came after an investigation into allegations about Jackson’s hiring and firing practices with the city.
Before Jackson’s hiring, Missouri City also paid almost $1 million in severance payments to Jackson’s two predecessors, Anthony Snipes and Odis Jones, who were fired by the city council in February 2020 and May 2021, respectively.
Tara Powdrill Crain, spokesperson for the city, has said the city won’t give Jackson any severance pay and that GovHR USA – the search firm that first identified Jackson as a candidate for Missouri City – provided a clause in its contract under which it will waive the recruitment fee for a new city manager because Jackson didn’t stay for a full year.
The city paid the firm about $23,000 to find Jackson.
During the meeting in which the council opted to fire Jackson, the council also voted to appoint Cole as interim city manager for up to 30 days before naming an interim manager and, eventually, a full-time city manager.
Cole had been serving as the city’s IT manager before Jackson promoted him to chief information officer. Cole’s salary before taking over as interim manager was about $!50,000 per year, but the council has approved a 20 percent increase, according to Crain.