Gomez out as Farmersville city manager

(Rigo Moran)

Farmersville City Council votes against renewing City Manager Jennifer Gomez’s contract amid disagreements over funding priorities, prompting the search for an interim city manager

FARMERSVILLE – The city of Farmersville has recently undergone a sudden change in management after Farmersville City Council opted not to renew the contract for its city manager, who held the position for nearly six years.

The council voted 3-2 not to renew the City Manager Jennifer Gomez’s contract at the most recent council meeting on April 22. The item was scheduled for closed session to evaluate and negotiate the city manager’s contract, and after discussion amongst the council, the vote resulted in not continuing with Gomez’s services.

“We just need to be sure that we get somebody that has our community in their best interest, our community members and everything that we want,” Mayor Tina Hernandez said. “It kind of feels like Farmersville is not up to date. It just seems like all other cities are just so far ahead of us.”

Hernandez, who voted not to renew Gomez’s contract, explained that even though she is grateful for Gomez’s service, she is voting for what she thinks is best for Farmersville.

“I made my decision independently, just from my own thoughts and what I want for the city,” Hernandez said. “You just (have to) put everything into perspective, take a chance and try something new.”

Councilmember Paul Boyer confirmed the council will start looking for an interim city manager to fill Gomez’s shoes; however, Mayor Hernandez is unsure how long that will take.

“From my viewpoint, I don’t want to rush into anything. I want to pick the right person,” Hernandez said.

Boyer and Hernandez both noted that, from their respective perspectives, the city needs someone who has the same interests as the community.

“I think we need to have someone that relates to the council, the planning commission, the people in the community, the businesses,” Boyer said. “The city manager wears a lot of hats. We need someone that is good at grant management, (who is) not only applying but working with the grant writer.”

As far as who is filling Gomez’s shoes until they can find an interim city manager, Hernandez explained she doesn’t think that an acting city manager has been appointed, but she is confident in the fact that many members of city staff have started working together to make sure everything gets done.

“Everybody, right now, is working together until we can get an interim and (advertise) that we are looking for a city manager,” Hernandez said. “Right now, we have our city attorney, financial director, city clerk…we’re so blessed to have all those people…they’re just ready to do whatever they need to do to keep the city moving forward.”

Boyer explained that the city’s finance director, Steve Huntley, has stepped up to take on many of the city manager’s responsibilities until the city can advertise and hire a more permanent city manager.

“He’s graciously agreed to take that very temporary position until we get in interim,” Boyer said.

Boyer also gave his opinion as to why the council voted not to renew Gomez’s contract. While he himself voted to renew the contract, he noted that – recently – he has felt as though city staff could take more of the council’s concerns into consideration.

“Honestly, I would have been willing to offer (Gomez) a shorter, one-year contract,” Boyer said. “But the majority of the council decided it was time not to renew, so I support the decision.”

At recent meetings, some disagreements between the council and city staff include the proposed 14% cut to public works as well as a proposal to increase the number of dispensary permits in the city from three to five.

At a council meeting on April 8, Hernandez explained her concerns about cutting funding to the park maintenance. She explained she believes that the city should find a way to ensure that the city has the funds to upkeep the parks.

“Whatever it takes to get the money to public works. I don’t like to hear excuses, and I want these parks better for these kids, for the community members,” Hernandez said at the April 8 meeting.

After the council voiced their concerns at the meeting about the parks, then-City Manager Gomez explained she was unsure what solutions the city council is looking for, such as where they expected to take the funding from.

Councilmember Armando Hinojosa also expressed frustrations to city staff at the meeting regarding issues he felt like were not being handled appropriately.

“If we’re bringing up issues that the residents are bringing up… what is going on? Am I just saying this and you guys pretending to write this down? Is there something happening?… I’m asking, was anything done?,” Hinojosa said at the April 8 meeting.

These disagreements could potentially be some of the differences that led the council to vote against renewing the city manager’s contract. Now the next steps for the council are to find an interim city manager who can keep the city running.

This sudden change comes after Gomez served a near six-year run as Farmersville’s city manager.

According to previous reports from The Sun-Gazette, Jennifer Gomez started as Farmersville’s City Manager in May of 2018. As a Farmersville native, Gomez left her position as city clerk with the City of Hanford to be the City Manager.

“We appreciate everything she did for us and the city and the community, but we’ve chosen to take a different avenue,” Mayor Hernandez said.

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