The Rockwall City Council, led by Mayor David Sweet, voted 5 -2 to terminate the contract of long time city manager Julie Couch at the Monday meeting. Mayor Pro Tem, Mark Russo, made the motion to direct city attorney , Pete Eckert, to write the termination letter. Cliff Sevier, candidate for Rockwall County Commissioner place 1, made the second. The motion was supported by Michelle Smith, Mayor David Sweet, and David White. Margo Nielsen and Benny Daniels voted against the motion.
Julie Couch has a long history with the City of Rockwall. With over 20+ years as Rockwall City Manager, many of the success attained by Rockwall can be attributed to her leadership. Bob Cotti, former city council member, outlined many of those successes in an email yesterday. The following is copied directly form his email:
1. The Harbor District is at the top of my list. The land on which that development now sits was worth a mere $3M just a few years ago. Today the value approaches $100M and the city continues to reap benefits from The Harbor and all of the events that occur there.
2. Growth in Rockwall has exploded since the mid-1990’s and although there are some who would love to have seen Rockwall remain a quiet small town bedroom community, that growth has been both in residential and commercial properties. This, by the way, is the reason that we still enjoy one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the area. Also, we have seen a transition from the numerous volume-built homes of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, to more custom-built homes. We’ve also witnessed an exceptional improvement in quality standards that have been applied across the city and especially at primary entry points to the City.
3. Road improvements have been exceptional over the past ten years. John King Boulevard is a prime example of how to best utilize municipal bonds. Once the I-30 overpass is completed (late this year or early next) there will be an improved means of moving from north to south (and vice versa) and avoid some of the traffic tie-ups that one can find during rush hour. Other important improvements include the completion of the SH-205 expansion project, the FM740 expansion project, the improved SH-66/SH-205 intersection, and many other municipal roads that have been built and vastly improved.
4. Rockwall’s Volunteer Fire Department has been rated one of the best VFD’s in Texas and is modeled after one of the highest rated volunteer fire departments in the country, The Loudoun County Volunteer Fire Department in Northern Virginia.
5. Rockwall’s Police Department continues to be one of the best in the state with Rockwall’s crime rates being among the lowest in the Metroplex.
6. The City of Rockwall has maintained a AAA rating for the past 10-15 years. The annual budgets that have been brought forward each year have been met head on and, each year revenues exceed projections while expenses either meet or are below projections.
There are many more attributes of Rockwall that can be credited to Julie … One of the Top 10 Cities in which to live and raise a family; One of the best cities for work in America; home of one of the finest Medical Corridors (Presbyterian Hospital) in the Metroplex; moving the city to finally annex Lake Rockwall Estates (a blighted area south of the city that was largely ignored for decades); protecting the city’s northern and eastern borders through annexation; and one near and dear to me … the creation of Rockwall’s Animal Service Center. You’ll note that I chose not to call it an Animal Shelter. It is not … the folks out there really take care of the animals and attempt to have each adoptable pet find a home.
The reasons for Julie Couch’s dismissal are not clear and this City Council has yet to make a public statement regarding this surprising action by a relatively new and inexperienced council.