In June, Jerry Ducay became Colleyville’s city manager, bringing more than 26 years of municipal government experience to the city. Ducay previously served as village administrator for the village of Frankfort, Illinois, an upscale community in Chicago’s southwestern metropolitan area with a population of 22,000 residents. Ducay holds a doctorate in education from Olivet Nazarene University, a master of business administration from Governors State University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Illinois State University.
What attracted you to Colleyville?
My wife and I talked for years about relocating and where we would like to go. And one of the places we identified was Texas. So when the time came to start to look for employment opportunities, we looked at Texas, and we were fortunate to be able to come to the Dallas area and visit Colleyville. We loved the state in general, but we really love this area. And I remember what really set this area apart was one of the first times I was here when I was driving in the morning and I saw a crossing guard. As I was driving past the crossing guard he waved at me and smiled, and I thought, ‘That’s reflective of a spirit of community and not just a person doing their job.’ They wanted to create a welcoming approach to the community and an environment that made people feel like they were somewhere special.
What do you foresee as some challenges?
I think, like with all communities, Colleyville is challenged with redevelopment. And the reason it is challenging is not because [the city is] not well-placed or doesn’t have opportunities, but [it is challenging] because [Council has] a very high expectation of what they would like to see and what the residents expect. Therefore, [the city] needs to be very selective in encouraging and furthering redevelopment while at the same time preserving the quality and the essence of the community. And that is a challenge that is often difficult and requires a greater degree of attention. We are in this transitional phase where so much infrastructure is being improved that I think most residents appreciate the fact that it is underway and the investment is being made in the community, but they want it to pass. And the development community is the same way. The development community is going to begin to look at Colleyville as a destination. So [the city staff is] positioning ourselves right now to be the facilitator of that transition to begin the process today in outlining how we want to see the community redeveloped.
Where do you think the line is drawn between waiting for those type of high-quality developments to come in and missing a development opportunity because it may have not been viewed as high-quality?
It’s a very tough line to walk. And more often than not it requires a real desire to hold strong to the basic values you have, and that means on occasion you are going to miss an opportunity. But you have to be willing to forego a short-term opportunity for a longer-term objective. But you also have to be reasonable. There has to be some threshold that you say, after which, we need to re-evaluate our expectations, and if you try to reach a certain set of goals and aspirations and then are unable to reach those, you need to step back and re-evaluate your process and make sure those goals and aspirations are reasonable because if they are not, you will just be spending energy in the wrong direction.
Colleyville’s first responders are underpaid when compared to surrounding cities. Are you going to have an aggressive plan for the city to get more revenue so that responders’ salaries can be adjusted?
One of things that challenges every city is the allocation of resources. So Colleyville has done a good job in preparing themselves for the future.
So we have two things that are both at work at the same time. One is the immediate need of operations and being able to fund these endeavors like salaries, and we’ve done some things to try and help achieve more of a reasonable base for some of our first responders, while at the same time making sure we have adequate funding for the capital needs. And that’s one of the things we are working on right now … is updating our five-year capital plan so that we not only have a plan for capital improvements in the community but that we have the money to pay for it. At the same time we just got done doing a compensation study that said how our employees’ pay compare to other communities and what are we doing to bring [their salaries] in line. We did two things. … One, we are going to put $200,000 in our new budget, which will start in October, toward that adjustment, the bulk of which is going to go to police and fire. Second thing is we are allocating a percentage of future budgetary surpluses toward that endeavor so we can look at it again next year.
Do you have any changes you would like to implement as far as staff goes?
I’ve only been here for a month, but one that I wanted to begin instantly is implementing a serious emphasis on customer service and I believe that our staff understands that and endeavors to achieve that objective, but I want to take it to a new level. I want residents who call to be called back that day; I want residents to feel that we are truly here to provide service and that we are not just here to provide regulatory authority. My cell phone is on my business card; people are welcomed to call me; and I will respond as will our entire staff. I think that is an important element of community service. If residents feel that their issues are being heard, they will certainly understand there are some times you cannot give them the answer they want, but they deserve the respect of your time and attention and every effort to try and help them with those issues. The second thing I would like to do is look more longer-term at capital planning and start to tie revenues and expenditures together beyond just the one-year budget. And the mechanisms in place right now are going to be helpful in that because there has been a lot of planning. There’s a lot of good data, and it is just a matter of procedural issue to try and marry that all up so that we have a reasonable plan of action that goes beyond one or three years, maybe goes five or seven years. The last thing I want to do is beautify. And that’s going to start with the city buildings. We need to lead by example, and our landscaping beds need to be appropriately done and maintained and our facilities need to look appropriate. So we’re doing some enhancements in front of [City Hall]. We bought the property next door, and you’ll see us do some work there so the library can do some wonderful communal events out there. We want to create an environment where there is a welcoming nature that is functional as well as beautiful.
Do you have any concerns about next fiscal year’s sales tax revenue?
Yes; that’s why staff has budgeted a flat sales tax revenue and no growth. But my concern is even more with the business owners than it is with the community. We want to see them thrive in our community, so we are working with them to try and come up with ways to help them better understand how they can manage through this construction.