Irving Councilman Says City Manager Wants to Leave

Mayor questions possible severance for city manager, whom she says has about a month left on his five-year contract

The Irving City Council is holding a special meeting to discuss the work contract for the embattled city manager, who reportedly wants to leave shortly before the end of his five-year contract.

Councilman Dennis Webb said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez has expressed a desire to leave the job after months of criticism on various topics.

"He understands the political arena of Irving. He understands that as long as he's here, people are not going to be happy and they're going to continue to stir up controversy around him and, so I think at the end of the day, he's thinking about what's best for him, his family, and I think eventually the city of Irving," Webb said.

City spokespeople said Gonzalez was not available for an interview.

The special meeting will be held Wednesday night.

"The purpose of the meeting is to try to help move forward this ending to our relationship with the city manager and the city," said Webb, one of the three council members who requested the meeting.

Mayor Beth Van Duyne said she was surprised to hear of the meeting. She said Gonzalez never told her he wanted to leave.

"We rushed to have a meeting tonight and all this time, I still don't have a document to even review, and I guess we're supposed to vote on it tonight. That's what I've been told," she said.

Van Duyne said the council first met during a closed executive session last week to discuss a possible renegotiation of Gonzalez's contract when the topic suddenly switched to severance.

"It came out of the blue for a number of us who thought, if you have a city manager who has a five-year contract [and] that five-year contract is up in about four or five weeks, you allow that to terminate unless you want to offer him a new contract, at which point, you should be negotiating a new contract," she said.

Van Duyne said that discussions of a buyout worth hundreds of thousands of dollars concerned her because he only had about a month left on his contract.

"I don't understand why the city would agree to pay half a million dollars for a city manager who has one more month ... on a five-year contract," she said.

But Webb said the $500,000 was false information, saying Wednesday's meeting was an effort to end the city's relationship with Gonzalez as amicably as possible.

"I just don't think you can just completely sever ties with someone who has that much information and has been that strategic [to] where we've gotten so far," he said.

The closed executive session will begin at 6:45 p.m. It will be followed by an open session, during which residents can learn about what was discussed and make comments, Van Duyne said.

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