Editor’s note: This article will be updated as more information becomes available. This story was updated at 3:07 p.m. to include comments from Mayor Troy Hill and Council Member Kathryn Pantalion-Parker. The story was updated at 4:20 p.m. to include more information about the interim city manager.
Leander City Manager Kent Cagle has been fired.
Leander City Council voted 6-1 to dismiss Cagle “with cause” during a special called meeting May 20. Mayor Troy Hill called the meeting May 17, noting he wanted to “discuss the performance and direction that the city wants to go in.”
Hill said in an email that the decision was based on factors he is not able to discuss at this time.
“I believe dismissal was necessary for the city to go in a direction that voters overwhelmingly advocated in two election cycles,” Hill wrote in the email. “The city needs to go [in]a new direction with a focus on economic development and lessening the tax burden on property owners. Our council felt a change was necessary to make this happen.”
Council Member Michelle Stephenson opposed the motion to dismiss Cagle.
“I think Kent has done a great job in the city,” Stephenson said. “He has been a good city manager. He has kept morale up amongst the employees. He’s been excellent with the budgeting.”
Cagle has served as Leander’s city manager since 2011. Previously he worked as city manager of Duncanville and worked for the cities of Lubbock, Carrollton and Plano.
Cagle told Community Impact Newspaper that the firing did not come as a surprise and that he has not been told why this action took place.
“I have nothing to say,” Cagle said. “It’s done. There’s no need to go into it now.”
Council Member Kathryn Pantalion-Parker said the decision to dismiss Cagle was not easy. While she would not detail specific reasons for his dismissal, Pantalion-Parker said she thinks the decision is the right choice for the city.
“It’s a decision we have to accept and move forward and be a productive city,” Pantalion-Parker said. “I hope people can be respectful of the [person in the city manager position]and this is not anything that comes out negative for Mr. Cagle. It’s just the right decision for the city and our citizens.”
Mayor Pro Tem Chris Czernek declined to comment after the meeting. Council members Marci Cannon and Christine Sederquist said a statement will be made at a later time. A voicemail left with Council Member Jason Shaw has not yet been returned.
In November, Cagle received a 3% raise, after Leander City Council voted 5-2 to approve the raise, with Hill and Cannon opposed. Hill told Community Impact Newspaper at the time that he thought the city manager should be held to a higher standard.
“I think cities should be held to the same standard as a corporation,” Hill said at the time. “We should pay people well and support them 100 percent, but at the same time we need to expect the same kind of performance that the private sector expects. I do not feel this process has been done in Leander. Our city is pretty far behind other cities as far as economic development. … I have faith our city manager can get it done but I also want to hold him and other employees accountable for results and I don’t think that’s been done.”
City Council voted unanimously to have Gordon Pierce serve as interim city manager. Pierce has worked as a city manager and is a contracted executive with Texas First Group, which is an interim management services company, according to a statement from the city.
Assistant City Manager David Carroll will serve as the acting city manager while a finalized contract with Pierce is pending, according to the city’s statement.