• Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

City finance director, EDC director resign | News

The City of Liberty Hill has three major positions open for hire as both the economic development director and finance director have recently resigned, while the planning director position has been vacant since mid-2023. 

Mary Poche, Economic Development Director

Mary Poche, economic development director for the City of Liberty Hill, recently resigned from her role, but has agreed to stay on with the city for the new couple of months while they search for her replacement.

“Unfortunately, I am having some health issues and will need time and space to take care of myself per my doctor’s recommendation,” Poche told The Independent. “This is a very busy job, and it deserves someone that can give 100-plus percent. To that end, I made the difficult decision to make a transition.  We hope to have someone on board soon so that I may train with them.”

Poche notified City Manager Paul Brandenburg of her resignation in late February.

Her resignation letter, sent to Brandenburg on Feb. 26, stated: “On or before June 1, 2024, I am resigning my position as Director of Economic Development for the Liberty Hill Economic Development Corporation (LH EDC). As we have gotten busier with ongoing projects, City needs, and general management of this organization I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up. Therefore, this difficult decision was made primarily because of ongoing health issues whereby I must take some time to heal and hopefully get better.”

Poche joined the city in February 2023. Over the last year, she has moved the EDC into its own separate office in downtown Liberty Hill, revamped the EDC’s website, hired an EDC coordinator, and led the purchase of a 1.51-acre parcel of property in downtown Liberty Hill, which includes the former VFW building on Myrtle Street. 

Sidney Smith, Finance Director

Last week, Finance Director Sidney Smith resigned suddenly, leaving the city the same day she submitted her resignation letter.

Her resignation letter was sent to Brandenburg on March 22. It stated: “After much consideration I have decided to leave the City of Liberty Hill. I have enjoyed my time with the City and appreciate the opportunity to work as the Finance Director. This resignation is effective as of today’s date.”

One of Smith’s major job roles was overseeing the completion of the city’s annual audit. Brandenburg said this year’s audit will not be completed on time due to her resignation.

“The audit will be completed, but we won’t meet our deadline,” he said. “We’ve already talked with our advisers who know we will file late. We want it to be done accurately, so we don’t see it as a negative, because we want to make sure our numbers are accurate.”

While the city searches for Smith’s replacement, Brandenburg said they will try to get a temporary finance director through an agency to use in the interim.

In recent years, the City of Liberty Hill has failed to meet its audit deadlines, particularly with its 2020 audit, which wasn’t completed until January 2022. Brandenburg said he isn’t concerned that something like that will happen again.

“Back then the city had a whole exodus of people, plus they were already a year behind and fell behind even more,” he said. “We are caught up as of right now, and we aren’t talking about the audit taking years to complete. When Sidney left, it was almost complete.”

Smith joined the City of Liberty Hill in February 2022. Calls to Smith were not returned by press time. 

Planning Director/Assistant City Manager

The City of Liberty Hill’s planning department has been without a director since August 2023. Former planning director Jerry Millard resigned in mid-August after leading the department for about a year.

An ongoing search for a new planning director has not yielded any success, so earlier this month the city council approved the creation of an assistant city manager and planning director hybrid position.

Brandenburg said the city is looking for someone who has strong planning, zoning and economic development skills, as well as leadership skills.

“If we combine these two positions, that could free up some money so we can hire another planner,” he said.

The city currently has two planners, McKenzi Hicks, who is serving as interim planning director, and Stephan Zaparolli, who joined the city this month. 

“We have three positions out there right now and all three are very important positions for the city,” Brandenburg said.

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