New City Manager David Cooke laid out his plans on Tuesday for creating three city departments in an effort to focus on neighborhoods, economic development and property management.
The city’s housing and economic development departments were merged into one department in the fiscal year 2009 budget during a string of cuts aimed at reducing budget gaps, but the two units will be separated again in some of the first organizational changes by Cooke.
The changes should have no effect on the budget, Cooke said.
“It gives a strong focus on the neighborhoods, and a much needed focus on our resources,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “I expect you will see some morphing in these departments, but it is a very good start.”
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Jay Chapa, the director of the current housing and economic development, will lead economic development efforts, including focusing on reaching out to international businesses, attracting new development and reviewing the city’s economic incentive policies.
Cynthia Garcia, assistant director of housing and economic department, was named interim director of the neighborhood services department, which will include housing development, housing repair, neighborhood empowerment zones, tax increment finance districts and administration of federal entitlement grants.
Other city functions could also move to the new neighborhood department, including sections of code compliance, neighborhood engagement and parks and community services.
An interim director has not been named for the property management department, which is meant to account for the city’s buildings and other assets.
Several sections of other departments are moving to this department. For example, management of tax foreclosed properties is currently in housing and economic development; right-of-way easements is in transportation, and public works and gas well leases are in planning and development.
The city will do a national search to fill the director spots for the property management and housing departments.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984