There was a special session of the Ballinger City Council held on Saturday, January 11th at 1 p.m. At the special session the council went into executive session. When they returned, mayor Dawni Seymore informed everyone that the council had hired an interim city manager, Sidney J. LaQuey. Former city manager Tommy Turney was fired on January 6th. Seymore said that the city didn’t want to lose any time bringing an interim city manager onboard and, at the same time, they weren’t going to rush into bringing just anyone in, “We intentionally looked for someone with a very strong financial background. And that is who we have now. I talked to a couple of other individuals who were not a fit. What they wanted didn’t work for us and what we wanted from them didn’t work so, this guy worked and his background is exactly what we need right now as a community moving forward. He’s going to work on the financial part of Ballinger.” Newly appointed council member Jeff Smith said that LaQuey’s background is exactly what the city needs moving forward, “He has a background in the public works sector but his strength really lies in the financial area. We wanted to make sure that we grabbed someone up that could help us right the ship. We believe that the city has a good, core group of managers in our public works who can work with him.”

LaQuey is also a CPA. He has a BBA in Accounting and a BA in Government, both from the University of Texas. LaQuey’s experience is extensive. His resume’, in part, says, “Performed all duties of city manager in incorporated municipality in Texas in interim role. City services overseen included local police department, recycling, parks, planning, zoning, floodplain management and building code inspections, as well as fire, sanitation, and emergency medical services provided by contract.

Planned, organized and directed all financial activities of the City of Elgin, including debt management and cash management. Directed operations in the Utility Customer Service and Accounts Payable/Purchasing departments. Performed a variety of routine and complex technical, accounting, finance and administrative work in administering the treasury and debt functions of the City.

Performed all functions of the finance director for municipality experiencing explosive growth for interim period.

Assisted District Attorney with forensic accounting.”

LaQuey has also assisted with the audits of 32 cities and counties in Texas. He also has extensive experience in bids and purchasing as well as budget composition and management.

Ballinger contracted with a company named Texas First Group to find an interim city manager. The group’s website describes it as:

“Texas First Group was created to provide interim management services for Texas municipalities.  Texas First Group is owned and operated by Kerry Sweatt who has over 50 years’ experience in public administration and over 30 years’ service as city manager.  Additionally, Texas First Group has over 250 associates with an average of over 30 years of public administration experience.  The company understands the problems of cities that are experiencing a management vacancy and the need for staff leadership and assistance to the Mayor and City Council.

Often cities find themselves in a dilemma when faced with a management vacancy. While the practice of appointing an existing staff member to fill an interim position is common, such action may dilute that individual’s ability to perform in either position. Consequently, the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization may be compromised.

Texas First Group is able to place qualified, experienced individuals to serve in interim professional municipal positions. Contract city management services offer the following advantages:

The city is not committed to a long-term contract. The city can contract for the time period that best meets the needs of the organization and which also saves the city the expenses of fringe benefits of full time employment.

A contract gives the city the opportunity to receive feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.

Interim management services will assure availability of professional personnel upon short notice to eliminate the operational “gap” when vacancies occur.

This arrangement gives the city the necessary time to properly seek and hire an individual as city manager or department head that best meets the needs of the organization and community.

In contracting with Texas First Group, cities have available to them the experience, assistance, and resources of all personnel of the company at no additional cost.”

LaQuey’s work experience includes; Interim city manager of Shoreacres, TX; Finance director for the City of Elgin; Interim finance director for the City of Buda; Assistant to the district attorney in Waller County; County Auditor for Grimes County; External auditor for Rutlage, Crain and Co; Research analyst for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

LaQuey will be moving to the area temporarily. He’s expected to arrive soon as he already has his own living arrangements set up.