An effort to remove Dayton City Manager Steve Floyd as executive director of the Dayton Community Development Corporation failed to gain momentum at Monday night’s DCDC board meeting. The board tabled a motion on the terms of the interlocal agreement and it will be revisited at a future meeting.
“In the spirit of what we heard tonight, and wanting to be a united city, I think it would be best if, honestly, we table that motion for a future agenda item, and with a pure heart and betterment of our community, consider a possible action on the terms of the interlocal agreement,” said J. Taylor Choate, a DCDC board member.
Historically, the DCDC board functions as the economic development arm of the City of Dayton and has had its own executive director. However, after the termination of the last executive director, which proved to be costly for the City through settlement agreements and legal fees, Dayton City Council and the DCDC board agreed that the city manager should serve as the executive director with the DCDC board still making decisions, much like the way the city council operates except that DCDC positions are appointments by Dayton City Council.
When Floyd joined the City in January 2022, he soon learned that the City was facing a $5 million budget shortfall, some of which was brought on by settlement agreements, attorney fees and professional services for plan reviews, engineering services and consulting fees. With the help of a $1.2 million contribution toward infrastructure costs from the DCDC, trimming expenditures and using $2 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, Floyd and his finance department have gotten the City out of the red.
At Monday night’s meeting, the DCDC board met for 90 minutes in executive session to discuss Floyd remaining as the executive director. When they reconvened the regular meeting, they were faced by a packed council chamber of City employees in support of Floyd. Three of them spoke on his behalf, beseeching the board to stand behind the city manager.
Police Chief Derek Woods, who also joined the City in January 2022, has a 30-year professional and personal history with Floyd. Woods called Floyd a man of integrity, and said that he is working hard to fix problems he did not create.
“He believes in this City, and he believes in the things he has come here and inherited. He can fix it and I think he is doing a pretty good job of it. It’s not going to be an immediate fix but it is getting fixed,” Woods said.
Pointing to the City employees in the audience, Woods added, “He has assembled a team. These folks are here behind me to support him … Y’all table this and talk about it. I want to leave you with a quote I heard this weekend, ‘Ego is the anesthesia that numbs the pain of stupidity.’ I am guilty of that in my own life. I sometimes have to get out of my own way. I think if you would all take a step back and take a breath, you would realize this man has nothing to gain from being here other than doing the right thing.”
HR Director Tammy Alexander, standing next to and supported by City Secretary Jennifer Billings, spoke next to DCDC about a shift in morale among City employees.
“Not too long ago, our employees were going through a difficult time. Our city manager left, our finance director was gone, and we had fired our economic development director. That situation ended up costing us and our constituents hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once it was all said and done, we were left broken and divided with not much hope for the future,” Alexander said. “As the HR director, I could see the spirit and morale we once shared had been crushed and our employees were suffering. We needed to find a new city manager.”
Directing her comments to DCDC Board President Tonya Smikal, Alexander continued, “Tonya, you were a part of the recruiting team who not only interviewed Steve but recommended him. You were also in agreement with the city manager being over the DCDC. I supported you in your campaign for city council but know that I do not support your decision to remove Steve as DCDC director.”
Alexander praised Floyd for increasing the pay rate for the entire city police department and city laborers, and for fixing the retirement and benefits packages of city employees.
“He only wants to do what is best for us and our community. He didn’t create these problems. He inherited them. He has been completely transparent and honest about what is going on in the City. We can’t say that about previous administrations. He has brought us hope and made us a family again. I am sorry, but as a citizen I would rather have better streets and running water as opposed to a driveway to the Old School Museum, landscaping at Prosperity Bank, or assisting board members and their family members with their personal businesses,” Alexander said.
Kimberly Judge, head of the City’s planning and development department, said that Floyd should be given an opportunity to earn the board’s trust.
“I was very leery in the beginning but over time and given the opportunity, he has gained my trust, and I have gained his trust. You have to give a person time to do so. I have sat in various meetings with Mr. Floyd, with different developers coming into town, and he has nothing but the very best intentions for the city,” Judge said.
Bluebonnet News reached out to Floyd for comment after the meeting. He said he was a bit surprised to see that the DCDC board was considering a vote on him not continuing to serve as the DCDC director. Floyd said he and his staff are almost continuously working with developers on economic development projects seeking a Public Improvement District (PID) or a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) for infrastructure assistance in exchange for voluntary annexation.
“I feel the most important incentives are those that encourage growth and developments into the City of Dayton, whereas we can sell them services and get them on the tax roll for future revenues as homes or projects are built. I feel these projects are planting seeds for for future revenues, which this city desperately needs. I believe that with the opening of the Grand Parkway, economic development strategies have changed,” he said. “Growth is headed our way regardless of if we want it or not. There have only been two requests for economic development assistance in the 10 months that I have been here, and neither have been worthwhile projects. I cannot support storefront grants or more murals until our city has quality infrastructure and is more financially solvent. If that is the direction that the DCDC wants to continue in, then I probably should be removed as their director.”
Floyd expressed appreciation for the City staff members who showed up to support him.
“This speaks volumes for the teams we are building here, trying to make Dayton a better place,” he said.
In other business, the DCDC board approved going out for bids for a survey of a property acquired by the DCDC in 2019. This property is the former Ricky Skarpa home located on the east side of town and accessed by a narrow, winding driveway off of US 90. As the property is unique with a railroad track on one side, woods on another side and a large lake and river valley on the east side, a survey of the property will be challenging, though it is necessary for the DCDC to bring in an investor for the property.
The DCDC board also agreed that it should meet monthly instead of quarterly. Their goal with monthly meetings is to stay engaged and knowledgeable on the topics they are discussing, and to keep the lines of communication open.
Floyd updated the DCDC board on a housing development of almost 500 acres on FM 1960. The developer – Pulte Homes – has pulled out after finding out that a lot of the property was in the wetlands.
“They got tired of fighting with the property owner and pulled out. We have another development on SH 90 – 1,400 homes, across from the industrial park. We have a council meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday) to discuss the River Ranch Development (south of Dayton on SH 146). They are putting in a lagoon property,” Floyd said.
Dayton Mayor Caroline Wadzeck updated the DCDC board on some road work and sidewalk projects in the city.
“Another project that is expected to happen is an overlay of US 90. Hopefully that happens. This was in lieu of the median project. Another project we have had on the books for three years is the sidewalk project. They assured me that is going to take place,” Wadzeck said.
Dayton ISD Superintendent Jessica Johnson shared the latest enrollment numbers that show the District now has 5,750 students enrolled. Of those, 70 percent are considered economically disadvantaged,” she said.
She invited the DCDC board to attend the next Dayton ISD Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which will take place at 10 a.m. Oct. 22 at the Dayton High School Performing Arts Center.