A Home-Rule Municipal, the City of Forney has increased in population at an alarming rate within the past several years and all the decisions made regarding the directional development of Forney have been voted upon by the Mayor and member's of the Forney City Council.
However, the taxpayers of Forney employ a group of individuals who bring forth the project ideas and developer deals associated with the many projects considered by the Forney council.
These individuals are: City Manager Anthony “Tony” Carson, City Attorney Jon Thatcher, Forney EDC Director Warren Ketteman, EDC Administrator Stuart McGregor and Finance Director Deborah Wortham.
Regardless of how any council member portrays their direct involvement in the city’s developmental achievements; these are the individuals who actually appear at the County Commissioner's Court and other business meetings to negotiate on behalf of the citizens of Forney.
It is these city employees who are legally responsible for the information and guidance supplied the city council.
The Forney City Charter does not require the city mayor or council member’s to possess any educational or business experience whatsoever. The member's of the city council are only required to be qualified voters, be resident's living within the city limits and to not be in tax arrears to the city of Forney.
The Charter's lack of business qualifications for its council members apparently sprung from the belief that the hiring of upper-management personnel at city hall would be based on the employee's educational qualifications and professional experience.
Because the City operates under a “Council-City Manager” form on government, the council is required to defer all operational duties to the city manager.
So beginning with the City Manager, Anthony “Tony” Carson, the taxpayers need simply understand that the city manager’s job description is precisely described within the Forney City Charter.
City Charter Section 1.02, Forms of Government states; “The Council, consisting of the Mayor and Council members elected by and responsible to the people, shall appoint a City Manager, who shall be directly responsible to the Council for the execution of the laws and the administration of the government of the City”.
Attached for taxpayer review is the employment contract for City Manager Tony Carson.
City Manager Carson was hired on June 28, 2018 after the council conducted an in-depth employment search for a new city manager.
Carson earns a $167,500.00 annual salary, and his employment contract includes a provision that compensates him with a full year’s salary should his employment be terminated by the Forney City Council.
Anthony Carson recently requested the resignation of Assistant City Manager Wendle Medford.
Former Assistant City Manager Medford was a well-respected member of the city staff, and attached for taxpayer review is the one-line letter of resignation he submitted to City Manager Carson on January 22, 2019.
Economic Development Executive Director Warren Ketteman manages the city’s non-profit 4b economic development corporation, which is partially funded by a voter approved one half-cent dedicated sales tax.
It is Director Ketteman and his assistant Stuart McGregor who travel to trade shows and marketing events in order to attract new retail and commercial businesses to Forney.
These two individuals have been vital in the revitalization of downtown Forney, which has included the addition of Eno’s Pizza, Latham Bakery, Mama’s Daughter’s Diner and the Spellman Museum of Forney History.
Director Ketteman is also responsible for the negotiation of several tax incentivized projects such as the new Goodyear Tire distribution center, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, the Victorian Village's on Main Street and the expected expansion of the Smurfit Kappa paper plant.
Finance Director Deborah Wortham has been with the city’s finance department for many years. She was officially promoted to Finance Director upon the resignation of longtime Finance Director Leigh Corson in September 2017.
Director Wortham is responsible for the design and implementation of the city operational budget, the city’s financial investment portfolio and bond structure and all proposed project financing.
And lastly, City Attorney Jon Thatcher was hired on August 18, 2016 as the city’s first in-house attorney.
For years the City Council employed attorney Kent Hoffmeister of the Dallas law firm Brown & Hoffmeister.
The cost of the highly professional legal firm's services became very expensive as Forney’s development grew, so in December 2015 the council chose to terminate the law firm and hire a staff attorney.
After a lengthy employment search, attorney Jon Thatcher was selected and provided the attached employment contract.
Attorney Thatcher's lucrative contract provides him with an annual salary of $128,000, and also contractually guarantees him a six month severance package should his employment be terminated.
Clearly a politician, Jon Thatcher was an elected member of the Fate City Council when he was hired. Shortly after being hired he resigned his council position. However, in 2018 the Fate City Council appointed Jon Thatcher to spearhead their city's new Charter Review Committee.
The City Manager, City Attorney and all department directors, like all city employees, are prohibited from politically siding with any member of the council.
Although all city employee's have an American right to vote and campaign for the candidate of their choice, the employees of the city do not have the right the use their employee positions “politically” either for or against any member's of the Forney council.
The City Charter specifically prohibits the members of the council from working directly with any city employee so that political influence or favor may not be implemented.
Forney’s Charter states “Except for the purpose of inquiry, the City Council and its members shall deal solely with the administrative services through the City Manager and neither the City Council nor any member thereof shall give orders to any subordinate of the City Manager, either privately or publicly.”
Cover Photograph from L-R - EDC Assistant Stuart McGregor, EDC Executive Director Warren Ketteman, City Manager Tony Carson, Finance Director Deborah Wortham and City Attorney Jon Thatcher at the Kaufman County Commissioner Court meeting on February 2, 2019.
Written by: Denise Bell