It’s been an eventful first year for Ballinger city manager Tommy Turney. He was put into action the minute he was hired by the city council. It’s been a year full of money matters, revamping the system, initiating changes to the city bookkeeping procedures, creating a new computerized time card system, applying for grants, beautifying the town with murals and repairs and trying to get the city’s finances back on track. There were approximately 10 months between the time former city manager Bryan Grimes left a job as city manager in Willow Park and Turney took the helm in Ballinger. Challenges have seemingly popped up daily and he’s had to contend with the usual personnel issues as well as trying to get the city in the black. As off August, the city had approximately $20,000 in the bank. He came into a financial tempest with the city having no money in reserve. They have 2 CDs but there are loans against them and they aren’t able to use them for operations. This is pretty much how the city has operated for the last couple of years and he’s attempted to address that issue.
When the CD’s were cashed in under the previous administration to cover a grant that they city was waiting to be reimbursed for, that money was spent as well. That put a significant financial burden on the day-to-day operations and capital projects. But, it hasn’t affected payroll and most likely won’t affect it in the future. The lack of financial reserves has caused the city’s Moody’s Credit Rating to plummet to “junk” status, Ba2, on the Moody’s credit scale.
Over the last year, Turney has made progress in many areas and has had some failures:
Where we have been.
Accomplishments and Set Backs for the City of Ballinger…1 Year in.
Accomplishments – Operations
1. Picked up where previous administration left off, and got the Ballinger/Abilene Water Contract signed, got the Ballinger – Millersview/Doole Water Contract signed, and oversaw the administration of a One Million Dollar Bond Issue to cover future water project.
2. Major Audit Conducted – Major audit was conducted to find $360,000.00 US Dollars of CD’s cashed out the previous year. The City was very glad to announce that all the money had been found and accounted for.
3. County Relations – Worked to improve County relations after former management severed ties with the County. As we all share the same community, we need to get along.
4. New Payroll System – Computerized time clocks and payroll system was purchased and installed, updating our organization from paper time sheets. The new system saves time, effort, and money.
5. New Operations and Accounting System – Purchased a new Operations and Accounting System. The new system in user friendly and more versatile than our out dated and unsupported system that was 20 years old.
6. Successfully revised the Ballinger City Charter, which had not been revised since 1962, and sent for November elections.
7. Grants - Successfully applied for 10 State and Federal Grants for approximately $1,500,000.00 USD. If Ballinger is successful in receiving these Grants, it will bring much needed improvements and equipment into the City.
8. Internet – Negotiated a cost savings contract with Next-Link, an internet service provider, to supply the City of Ballinger with internet service, at no cost. Saving $13,000.00 USD.
9. Other City Relations – Worked with other communities to foster a good working relationship and to help our neighboring communities improve their communities. For instance worked with Winters to help get them a similar internet package, and working with Rowena to help with their water issues with TCEQ.
10. Started Safety Program for all City Employees.
11. Employee development – Organized several Employee Development Classes
a. CDL Driver Training
b. Concealed Handgun License Training
12. Organization of 2 Town Hall Meetings
a. Tax Valuation Meeting
b. State senator Charles Perry town hall meeting.
Accomplishments – Water
1. 13th and 14th Street Drainage Project - Due to the efforts of the City, cleaning this drainage system out. The City was able to weather the numerous heavy rainstorms that occurred this year. The City was able to move water from 9 th Street to 14 th street quickly and stave off the possibility of flooding homes and connecting roadways.
2. Replaced 3,000’ of old water line with new Poly pipe, and installed 45 homes with new connections and fresh flowing water.
3. Repaired major valve at water plant, saving the city approximately $95,000.00 USD.
4. Started a Fire Hydrant Status Program where we check all fire hydrants for maintenance and water flow.
5. Started an inventory program, eliminating the need to go to the supplier every day for parts.
Accomplishments – Streets
1. Removed the Dip on 13 th Street.
2. Removed the speed bumps on Ave A toward the 1 mile.
3. Street paving – Able to pave 5 high use street/access areas and entry ways.
4. Repair – Able to come in and repair streets after water department line installations / water repairs / rain wash outs / and pot holes.
5. House Removal – Able to remove 5 condemned houses.
6. Beautification – Conducted 2 very successful trash clean-up campaigns.
7. Started a very successful cardboard recycling program.
Accomplishments – Projects / Events
1. Plaza Fountain – Worked with local Donor and Contractors to create a new water Fountain at
Pioneer Plaza, in time for the Ethnic Festival. Adding a nice new feature to the downtown area.
2. New Mural on Paske Wall – Worked with TxDot, local Artist, and owner to have the mural on Paske Tire and Lube repainted with a fresh new mural, helping clean up the down town area and creating pride in the community.
3. Scout Hut – Worked in conjunction with the Rotary Club to totally refurbished the Scout Hut. Making it usable for both the Girl Scout and the Boy Scout organizations.
4. Park Improvements – Worked with Park Board and many other organizations to create a disc golf course with new baskets, add an improved Washer Throwing Area, added a new sand volleyball Court.
5. Events – Help to support local events
a. Ethnic Festival was the best and most successful Festival in years.
b. BBQ Cook-Off in the Park – was a huge success.
c. Fireworks at the Lake Park
d. Trunk or Treat was very successful boasted over 1000 people.
Set Backs and Hurdles
1. Heavy Rains – Although rain is a blessing in this part of the county, heavy rains also brought project delays and damaged many of our road ways. Additionally, it caused the grass in many of our areas to grow uncontrollably, something we have not seen in 15 years.
2. Carlos Ruiz – The passing of Mr. Carlos Ruiz, our Water Superintendent, devastated our Water Department. Because of his passing, we lost all but one of our crew and had to add additional personnel, in order to rebuild the Department. This involved training and testing for water and sewer certificates.
3. Tornado – on 18 May 2019, an F3 tornado tore through the north side of Ballinger, it effectively demolished one of our water towers, it destroyed the Country Club, the Baseball Field, but more importantly, it destroyed 2 houses within the City Limits and many more in the County. This tornado has caused several millions of dollars in damage and caused a huge disruption in many
4. Major Leaks and Repairs – Recently, we had a major leak that shut down the South side of the City for 2 days. It was the first time we had to issue a Boil Water Notice in several years.