Main Street program revamped

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Sealy’s Main Street program got revived last week when the Sealy City Council approved the job description and salary for a director and moved administration of the program under the Sealy Economic Development Corporation.

The city council put the Main Street program on hold several months ago and now it is re-emerging under the auspices of the Sealy Economic Development Corporation. The reorganization is part of an effort to bring Sealy’s program out of probation with the state’s Main Street program.

“This is a project that’s been in the works for a few months to bring the Main Street program back into activity from being essentially on hold for the past few months,” said Robert Worley, executive director of the Sealy EDC. “We needed to review the job description base on it going from being a department of the city to a department of the EDC.”

Worley said a committee studied other Main Street programs and took aspects of different job descriptions and created one for the city. He explained that Sealy’s original program, created about five years ago, was operated as a city department and the director was an hourly employee.

“The salary range is for $44,000 to $64,000. The overall budget is $83,000 as we’re getting ready to have it approved by the EDC board of directors,” Worley said.

He said they considered making the director’s position part-time but ruled against it.

“(City Manager) Lloyd (Merrell) and (assistant City Manager) Warren (Escovy) and myself and others, looking at what needed to be done downtown and the plans to basically pump some life back into it, we decided it could not be done half-time,” he said.

Worley also informed the council that of the 90 Main Street programs in Texas, 30 are managed and funded by 4B Corporations, of which the Sealy EDC is one.

Councilwoman Jennifer Sullivan said she felt the salary was too high.

“The pay scale is more than we had before for that individual and the reason we stopped this program was because of cost and the high salary we were paying; it was not worth the money we were spending at the time and I just feel like the salary should be more in line with like the executive assistant director of the EDC in the $32,000 to $49,000 range,” she said.

Worley said they studied the job descriptions and salaries of the other cities and felt Sealy’s plan is in line.

“This is an exempt position, they’ll be working lots of weekends, lots of nights, lots of overtime and in comparing with the 90 other Main Street cities, this is not a high salary. This is kind of starting salary for the level Lloyd (Merrell) and I will be looking for, the expertise, the education,” he said. “The expertise and requirements on this exceed by a good bit the requirements of the executive assistant’s position. This person’s going to be required to be a business developer among other things. It’s going to operate at a fairly high level.”

Mayor Janice Whitehead felt the salary range was agreeable with a target salary of about $45,000.

“I find the salary range to be quite adequate because when we looked to hire a Main Street director four to five years ago the starting salary was $43,000,” she said.

City Attorney Tim Kirwin informed the council that this was a first step and that before anyone was hired that there would have to be changes in bylaws and ordinances first. Worley said that in order to comply with the rules of the Main Street program and the Texas Historical Commission, a new director would have to be hired by Oct. 1.

The council voted in favor of the plan with councilmembers Sullivan and Larry Koy opposing. Councilwoman Dee Anne Lerma was absent.

In an unrelated matter, Worley presented a grant for approval that would improve the façade of the building now being used by the Sealy EDC at 313 Main St.

“Actually, right before we moved in in April the owners told us that they wanted to improve the looks of it and the energy efficiency by replacing that large front window and the door and side window, which is very small but the total project is actually under $5,000. Our part is $2,469,” he said. “It’s in the Main Street Historic District and it’s façade improvement.”

Councilman Koy looked at it differently.

“If I was leasing something or renting something and the hot water heater went out, whoever owns it would be the one who’s paying for it,” he said.

Koy asked if the building’s owners applied for the grant before or after the Sealy EDC leased it.

“They had been planning for it before they ever moved out of the building, they just didn’t get around to completing the application until we completed moving in,” Worley said. “Since it’s in the historic district they had been planning on making an application to the EDC even before I got here.”

The council approved the $2,500 grant with Koy opposing.

In other action:

• The council held a public hearing on a request to annex a 44.11-acre tract of land into the city for a new housing development. No one spoke during the hearing.

• The council received the quarterly report of the Sealy Chamber of Commerce and Visitor and Convention Center.

• The council received reports from Public Works Director Mark Pulos and Lawrence Siska, director of streets, parks, drainage, and building services.

• The council appointed four members to the planning commission: Dwayne Virnau, Annie Smith, Errick Statum, and Ellen Remmert.

• The council agreed that it would be willing to create a Public Improvement District to help LGI Homes create a 440-lot subdivision on 160 acres located behind the Walmart Distribution Center that would need to be annexed into the city. Representatives said homes there would start in the low $200,000 range.

• The council adopted its ethics policy.

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