By George Slaughter
The City of Katy is looking for a new finance director after Becky Wilkins accepted a similar job with the town of Liberty Hill in Central Texas.
City Administrator Byron Hebert, who preceded Wilkins in the job, will serve as acting finance director while the city looks for a full-time replacement. The job description has been posted on the city web site.
Wilkins leaves with good wishes from her Katy co-workers. At Monday’s city council meeting, Mayor Chuck Brawner joked with her that he and the council wanted to stretch out the meeting as long as possible to keep her in town.
She begins her new job December 3. Her last day in Katy was Monday.
Even though Wilkins is moving to Central Texas, there is something tangible she’s leaving behind that her successor should find useful. She made some videos in which she demonstrates how she performed her various duties.
“It’s a library of Becky videos,” Wilkins said.
Aside from the new challenge, Wilkins said the role enables her to be closer to her parents, who live in Whitney, where she grew up before going to college in Arlington and beginning her career. Whitney is northwest of Waco, about 124 miles from Liberty Hill.
“They’re getting up there in age,” Wilkins said.
Liberty Hill has a population of approximately 1,600 and is in Williamson County, north of Austin.
Wilkins joined the city in 2014, during the mayoralty of Fabol Hughes. At the time, the city’s offices were in the now-former City Hall. The current City Hall opened in June 2016 across the street.
Mastering the challenges of moving her office across the street paled in comparison to the financial issues arising from Hurricane Harvey last year.
The city had to tap into its financial reserves for public safety expenses, and the related personnel costs to meet those needs. The city has applied for reimbursements from federal and state agencies, and Wilkins was active with those efforts.
On Monday night, the city officially took receipt of two award letters for Hurricane Harvey FEMA claims from the Texas Department of Transportation.
The first of the two checks, for Category B emergency protective services, is for $487,698. Wilkins described this as personnel costs, including overtime, incurred during the response to the hurricane.
The other check, for repairing damages to Water Plant No. 4, is for $15,310.
Wilkins said the checks cover two of approximately 11 projects for which the city will be receiving reimbursements.
Hebert said the money will be put into the city’s financial reserves.
Wilkins and the city’s leadership can also take pride in the recorded annual Moody’s Investors Service Rating Aa2, as of November 1, which was discussed at Monday’s council meeting.
The report describing the rating said that the city has a very good credit position, adding that notable credit factors include “a robust financial position, a light debt burden and a small pension liability. The credit position also reflects a strong wealth and income and profile and a sizable tax base.”
Wilkins leaves many friends in Katy, and has many happy memories. Among the most special, she said, was the camaraderie of the Katy community. She said she didn’t quite get it at first, but caught on when she began attending Katy High School football games at Hebert’s encouragement.
She said she had seen community spirit before, but “here, we take it to a whole new level. I’m going to miss that.”