Thomas Mattis, Waterville municipal administrator since 1991, announced his resignation last night to become the first full-time city manager in Kyle, Texas, a community in one of the fastest-growing counties in that state.
His appointment represents a “return home” of sorts for Mr. Mattis and his family. He spent the first 10 years of his local government career in Texas, serving as city manager in Rosebud, Pilot Point, and Bonham. His wife, Mary Ann Mattis, is a native Texan, and their two children were born in Texas.
Mr. Mattis, 44, set a record for the longest tenure of anyone holding the position of village administrator in Waterville, and he has drawn accolades as well as some barbs through the years.
Mayor David Myerholtz and other village officials had high praise for Mr. Mattis. Although well-respected and admired by many, Mr. Mattis ruffled a few feathers through the years.
The administrator was criticized by a group of residents earlier this year during the so-called “coffee caper.” The village's longtime solicitor resigned in March after being videotaped taking village property that included packets of coffee. The following week, Lance Martin, the village's police chief, retired. The chief's officers conducted the surveillance operation.
Councilman Joe Beckler commended Mr. Mattis for his administrative abilities and his financial skills. “He's done a good job,” he said.
Mayor Myerholtz echoed those sentiments. “He has done an excellent job,” he said. “To me, he has been a friend. I am going to miss that friendship as well as his hard work and efforts for the village.”
“It was a very difficult decision for us to leave our friends and home we have made in Waterville, but the folks in Kyle offered us an opportunity that we could not pass up,” said Mr. Mattis, who begins his new job Jan. 21.
That opportunity comes with a substantial pay raise. Lacey Smith, assistant to the city's interim city manager, said Mr. Mattis will be paid $88,000 with an additional $5,000 deferred each year as an incentive for him to stay until the end of his contract in 2005. He will be given a $6,000 annual car allowance. His salary in Waterville is about $65,000.
Mr. Mattis likely will be very busy in the coming years, dealing with the growth in Kyle. The city has experienced a population explosion, jumping from 2,269 citizens in 1995 to 5,314 in 2000 to the current estimate of 9,000.
Kyle is along the I-35 corridor connecting Austin to San Marcos, and is less than an hour's drive from San Antonio, all contributing factors to the recent growth, Mr. Mattis said.
Among the village's accomplishments during Mr. Mattis's tenure, cited by him and other village officials, were the construction of the fire-EMS station, buying 110 acres to provide a buffer between the town and development to the north, and annexation of more than 300 acres.
Council has not determined the process or timetable for replacing Mr. Mattis.