FORT WORTH — City Manager Tom Higgins announced his retirement Wednesday after nearly 30 years of service with the city.He has agreed to stay on until a replacement is found, Mayor Betsy Price said. Higgins, 70, a native of Detroit, said he is proud of Fort Worth’s tremendous growth since he started as the sole employee in the economic development department in 1987. “In the ’50s, people were going to Detroit in carloads, leaving the south,” he said. “But now they are coming the other way. It is just a reminder you have to stay on your game. It can go both ways.” The biggest challenge for the next city manager will be identifying what the city should be doing and then finding the best way to pay for it, Higgins said.The city does not yet have a timeline for finding a replacement, but Price said they had preliminary discussions with the Whitney Smith Company, a human resources consulting firm based in Fort Worth, about conducting a national search. The City Council will have to approve a contract.Price said she is looking for a proven leader, an innovator who is tech savvy, a manager who is able to be transformational and someone comfortable with balancing a tight budget.Higgins took over as interim city manager in early 2011. He was named city manager later that year. While in economic development, Higgins was involved in the construction of Alliance Airport, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the initial development projects on Sundance Square. He hopes spend more time with his grandchildren and golfing, but is not going into retirement “with any preconceived notions.” Higgins plans to stay in Fort Worth.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984 Twitter: @CatyHirst