Breckenridge Texan

City Commissioners hire Scott Dixon as Breckenridge’s Interim City Manager

City Commissioners hire Scott Dixon as Breckenridge’s Interim City Manager
September 29
15:40 2020

By Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

When Breckenridge’s new Interim City Manager, Scott Dixon, sat down with the Breckenridge Texan for a one-on-one interview last Wednesday afternoon, he had only been on the job a few hours.

“I’m here. I brought all my stuff,” he said. “We met at 11, 11:30; they took the official action, and I’m here as of 11:30 today (Wednesday).”

Just that morning, Breckenridge City Commissioners met and approved a contract with Strategic Government Resources to provide Dixon’s services as interim city manager. The cost of the contract is being funded by the Breckenridge Industrial Foundation through an agreement with the city. Dixon’s employment as Interim City Manager will be between 3 and 6 months.

Contract details

According to City Secretary Heather Robertson-Caraway, who along with Public Works Director Houston Satterwhite has been serving as a co-interim city manager since former City Manager Andy McCuistion retired earlier this year, Dixon will be paid by Strategic Government Resources and they in turn will be paid by the BIF through a contract with the City of Breckenridge.

“He’ll receive his pay from Strategic Government Resources, and they will bill the City, but in the contract, those invoices will go directly to the Industrial Foundation,” she said. “Ultimately, the Breckenridge Industrial Foundation will be paying for it, up to a certain amount which is $150,000,” she said.

In addition to Dixon’s salary, part of the $150,000 in the contract includes a per diem for meals, mileage and rent. Robertson-Caraway said the amount being charged by SGR is based on the city manager’s salary that is already in the city budget which is $100,000 for salary, $6,000 car allowance, and TMRS, which is retirement and the health insurance.

Dixon’s job will be to assess the city, all departments, all personnel, the budget and look at ways the city can cut anywhere else, Robertson-Caraway said. Another part of his job will be searching for candidates for a permanent city manager, something Robertson-Caraway expects to be completed within a couple of months. Dixon, who is himself looking for a permanent position, could also apply for that job.

“I’m saying within a month to two months, he’s already going to have candidates looked at or ready or they’re going to be offering him the position. But, it would probably be three months. But he did say minimum 3, maximum 6.”

Dixon’s background and experience

Dixon brings several years of city manager and city administration experience to the Interim City Manager position.

He most recently was City Manger in Ennis from February 2017 to November 2019. He left there when he resigned over a disagreement with the mayor and city council on the handling of incident involving the city’s police department. Before that, he was City Manager in Flatonia from April 2012 to February 2016 and was a Budget and Management Analyst Intern in the Town of Westlake before that.

He also worked in several financial services-related positions, including Personal Investment Officer at Compass Bank and a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch.

He holds an MPA in Public Administration from the University of North Texas and a B.A. in General Studies with a Marketing, Economics and Spanish emphasis.

his priorities

As for what Dixon’s top priorities will be after taking over, he said he hasn’t seen enough of Breckenridge yet to make that evaluation.

“I can see streets are an issue,” he said. “But I’ll be honest, streets are one of those things that – they’re kind of like owning a pool or a boat – you’re going to be paying for those things for the rest of your life. The boat’s always going to break, the pool’s always going to need issues, and streets are made to fall apart. So you can never really get to the point where all the streets are good all the time. But that certainly, I think, is a good goal to have.”

He said infrastructure should be a concern and is a concern across the country. But, he said, there are programs that can help cities with the costs of repairing infrastructure, and that’s going to be one of his priorities to make sure they are maximizing those dollars and that the city is applying for them and getting them.

“Again, I need to evaluate all that, but I would be very concerned about the state of the infrastructure,” he said. “How is our water system? How is our sewer system? What about our sewer plant and our water plant? Are they…operating in a way that they should be, efficiently?”

One concern for the city is water loss, he said. The city is actually paying money to produce the water, but before it gets to anybody’s house, they’ve already lost it from leaking pipes and that sort of thing.

“It happens all over the place, right,” he said. “But, you know, that should be something the City should probably be concerned about because it costs real dollars to produce that water. And no one gets to use it, and therefore no one is paying for it. Except they are through their taxes.”

Current Budget

As for the city’s current budget, Dixon said so far he thinks the city staff has done a good job with the way the budget has been done. He said there’s not a lot of money; he looked at what they are spending, and it’s bare bones.

“I went around and met staff at city hall today (Wednesday). There’s not a single person here that’s doing one job,” Dixon said. “There’s really not any person here that’s doing two jobs. Almost every single one them … is doing at least two jobs if not three or four. And that’s a lot to ask of person.”

But, sometimes, that person isn’t doing all four jobs well, he said. When an employee has too much to do, something typically suffers.

“You’re going to do one (job) really well; you’re going to do one OK; and the other two might only get done once in a while,” Dixon said. “That’s just human nature, so that should be a concern for people who live here. “It’s a concern for a person that’s asked to manage that process. But at the same time, the resource that you have to dedicate towards that is money. You gotta pay people to be in those positions, to do those things. If you don’t have the money, it’s not going to happen.”

He said he’s happy with budget, because the City has a minimal staff that’s doing a lot. “I think, frankly, some of them, just again glancing at what I’ve seen so far, are underpaid for what they do,” he said. “So we have to figure out – our (tax) rate is too high, we don’t have enough money as it is and some of our people our underpaid – so how do you fix all three of those?”

Looking at 2021 Budget

After looking at next year’s budget, Dixon said it also appears the city staff has done a commendable job of getting the 2021 budget ready in the absence of a permanent city manager.

“I’ve reviewed the audit; I don’t think there’s any monkey business going on, you know what I mean. I know that would be a big concern for folks,” he said.

One of the first meetings Dixon wants to have is with the auditor to discuss the city’s processes to make sure they have the right checks and balances in place.

“Again, from the early discussions that I’ve had with staff, I think that a lot of those are in place. I feel very good about that,” he said. “And that’s not always the case when you go into a town. Sometimes some of those areas are lacking and there’s a real reason to be concerned, but I haven’t seen any of that yet.”

As for any plans to reorganize staff or move positions around, Dixon said it’s too early to tell. He said the natural question for taxpaying citizens to ask is, are they are happy with the level of service they are receiving, and if they are, then they’ve probably got a pretty good staffing level in that area.

Discussing services that have been recently cut, such as at the cemetery, in aging services and some other areas, Dixon said those could be revisited at some point. “Are those service areas they want to try and re-implement? If they are, how are you going to do it?” he asked. “Are you going to be doing it with volunteer labor, or are you going to do it with paid staff or part-time staff?”

Although those are things that the staff will probably have to look at some point, he said he doesn’t know whether or not he’ll have an opportunity to do that as the Interim City Manager.

Applying for the permanent City Manager position

Dixon said doesn’t know yet whether he will apply for the permanent City Manager position in Breckenridge.

“I told the mayor, ‘You never say never,’” he said. “I do have applications in other cities right now that are pending, but I don’t know how any of those are going to turn out.”

Dixon’s commitment to the Breckenridge City Commission is three months, and he said he would be here at least three months to try and look into some of the issues the city is facing.

“I’m not going to say that I wouldn’t ever do it,” he said. “Breckenridge is a nice town and I love Texas, and this part of Texas I think is beautiful. Being a Fort Worth kid, it’s not that far from where I grew up.”


Cutline, top photo: Scott Dixon is the City of Breckenridge’s new Interim City Manager, brought in to assess the city, its budget and its operations, as well as to help find a new permanent City Manager. He is expected to be here three to six months. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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