After a tense special session, the Van Alstyne City Council voted three-to-two to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Van Alstyne Community Development Corp. that would allow newly hired CDC Executive Director Rodney Williams to receive insurance through the city's carrier. Mayor Larry Cooper was the deciding vote in the decision after initial votes resulted in a two-to-two tie.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article and the headline incorrectly described the item the council voted to approve. The council voted only to approve an interlocal agreement with the Van Alstyne Community Development Corp. that would allow newly hired CDC Executive Director Rodney Williams to receive insurance through the city's carrier.)

After a tense special session, the Van Alstyne City Council voted three-to-two to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Van Alstyne Community Development Corp. that would allow newly hired CDC Executive Director Rodney Williams to receive insurance through the city's carrier. Mayor Larry Cooper was the deciding vote in the decision after initial votes resulted in a two-to-two tie.

The hiring of Williams represents a change in director for the city, as these duties were originally fulfilled by one employee who served a similar role with the city's Economic Development Corporation. Williams formerly served as editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, a sister publication of the Herald Democrat, for five years.

VACDC President Collin Flynn said the organization received six applications for the position and interviewed three individuals before deciding to hire Williams in the new position. Flynn said budget did play a part in the decision but noted Williams's experience with the city was part of the decision.

“He just had an impressive résumé and outstanding relationship with the board,” Flynn said. “We feel he will be outstanding in his new position and role.”

Under the terms of his employment, Williams will be paid $22.83 per hour plus benefits for his services. In an effort to assist in the hiring, the city agreed to the interlocal agreement, allowing Williams to receive city insurance and other benefits. Under the agreement, the CDC will compensate the city for these expenses.

Without this, Flynn said the CDC would be required to get benefits and accounting from a third-party company at a greater expense than it would be able to afford.

“Our budget is determined by the sales tax of the city,” he said. “Larger cities have bigger budgets that allow for their director to have greater experience.”

Under the position Williams will oversee the development of community interests, including commercial, retail and small business development. The CDC will also be able to use its funding to assist in parks and other related projects within the city, Flynn said.

“We would like to have someone who is familiar with the city and familiar with the processes the city has in place,” Flynn said.

In an interview prior to Tuesday's meeting, Williams said the role of the CDC director has grown as the city is expecting growth north from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. This led to the split of the duties and the creation of director positions for the CDC and EDC.

Working as a journalist since 2001, Williams said he's also covered the cities of Plano and McKinney, but learned to love the Van Alstyne community in his former position.

“I have a real connection here and I heard they were opening the CDC position, so I decided to apply,” he said.

When asked about specific projects he'd like to pursue, Williams said it was too soon to comment as he was new to the position.

Several members of the council voiced concern with the how the decision was brought before city leaders, the lack of supporting documentation and a lack of time to review the information.

Council member Teddie Ann Salmon voiced her concern over the fact that the request for the position was done in a special session meant to address an annexation by the city and the late filing of documentation.

She also noted that the documents brought before the council lacked the minutes from the CDC meeting where they elected to move forward with choosing Williams. Additionally, there were no employment documents or agreements provided to the city council, she said. In an interview prior to Tuesday's meeting, Cooper said he did not know who the CDC had chosen for the position.

Salmon said this set a precedent with the council about the procedures city boards needed to do in order to get an item on the agenda.

“This is not against the CDC board,” she said. “If one board is required to follow this protocol, shouldn't all boards be required to follow the same procedure.”

Salmon also noted that there seemed to be some discrepancies between the CDC's bylaws and the interlocal agreement between it and the city. Notably, Salmon questioned who would have oversight with regard to the director — the CDC itself or the city.

Council member Robert Jaska, who serves on the CDC board, noted he would like to have more time to review the agreement for the same reason. Jaska argued that while the director is a city employee, oversight should go to the CDC alone in most cases.

Jaska noted a situation where there were questions regarding the economic development corporation director and her direct oversight when she initially started. As such, Jaska said he wanted to clarify the situation to avoid similar situations.

While not in attendance during Tuesday's meeting, council member Suzon Cromwell voiced her opposition to moving forward with the hiring until the city had more time to view the documents. This message was delivered by text message to council member Lee Thomas, who read it aloud during the meeting.

An initial motion was made to table the decision until the next council meeting in July, with Salmon and Jaska voting in favor. Brad Clough and Thomas voted against, with Cooper serving as a tiebreaker vote against delaying the action. The subsequent vote in favor of the hiring was approved by the same split.