A consulting firm is asking Hitchcock for $15,000 over five months to review the city’s organizational structure and financial operations, along with city planning and assessment, according to draft documents released to The Daily News on Friday.
The contract has not been finalized and is subject to change, however, city officials said.
The city apparently has been struggling since being hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in August and being rocked again shortly after that when Mayor Anthony Matranga was hospitalized.
Commissioners on Nov. 7 authorized Mayor pro tem Randy Stricklind to negotiate a deal with C.B. “Bix” Rathburn, a former county economic development director who resigned in June to become an independent consultant.
The Daily News obtained a copy of the draft contract through the state’s public information act.
The draft contract divides Rathburn’s work in Hitchcock into three sections — organizational, financial and city planning.
Rathburn would review staffing patterns, position descriptions and responsibilities, workflow and organization climate to assess the organizational structure.
Financial operations would consist of audit reviews for the last three years, a review of the current operating budget and revenue streams and a look at long-range revenue and expenditure trends, according to documents.
Finally, Rathburn would help the city craft a strategic plan for the future as part of the city planning and assessment section, documents show.
“The completion of this engagement is scheduled to align with the budget development cycle for the FY 2019 fiscal year for the city,” Rathburn said in the draft contract. “This is critical to ensure a schedule for implementation by the City Commission of any staffing or fiscal recommendations or plans. This engagement will initiate as soon as the City Commission desires and will take an estimated five months to complete.”
Since Rathburn resigned as county economic development director in June, his consulting firm, RPC Rathburn Planning & Consulting, has been successful in landing several contracts, including a $35,000 contract with the Galveston Park Board of Trustees to develop a business plan for the East End Lagoon and another job with La Marque to assist on several projects for $6,000 per month.
Rathburn told the park board this week that the Hitchcock project was “short-term,” so the East End Lagoon project would be a priority.
Lucy Dieringer, Hitchcock’s city secretary, has been managing operations at a critical time for the city, as it tries to navigate several post-Harvey processes.
Parts of Hitchcock, just north of Galveston Bay and west of Interstate 45, were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall Aug. 25 in Rockport, 200 miles south of the county and moved up the Texas coast.
The storm dumped more than 50 inches of rain in some parts of this county, swelling creeks and bayous and flooding an estimated 20,000 homes in the county and devastating parts of Houston.
Hitchcock has 60 days to document and produce all the necessary paperwork to get reimbursed for Hurricane Harvey damage through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Dieringer said. It needs the help of an engineering firm to get that done, officials said.
Debris removal also became an immediate concern for cities when the cleanup began; but Hitchcock, with a population of about 7,800 people, didn’t have a contract on hand, officials said. Hitchcock City Hall also sustained heavy damage during the storm.
City commissioners were hopeful Rathburn could help them move forward after several setbacks.
Rathburn said he founded his consulting firm in 2012. His firm developed facility and master plans for La Marque and other entities between 2012 and 2014.
Rathburn was hired by Galveston County in July 2015 at an annual salary of $130,000, according to the county.
Before starting at the county, Rathburn was the executive director of the Galveston County Economic Alliance for about a year. He was the president of Texas A&M University at Texarkana from July 2008 to August 2013 before resigning with little explanation, according to the Texarkana Gazette.
Rathburn was previously president of Savannah Technical College from 2000 to 2008. A Georgia Office of the Inspector General found Rathburn had abused the position by asking the auto department head to purchase parts for his personal vehicle and failing to reimburse him in a timely manner.
The report also found he used state money to cover the initial cost of a catering event for a board member. He resigned several months after the report was completed.
Rathburn was the president of Galveston College from 1995 to 2000.