ENNIS – Ennis City Manager Steve Howerton formally announced his retirement as the Ennis City Manager on Monday. Howerton’s tenure began in June 1981. His retirement will be effective Dec. 31.
“I thank each of you for having given me the opportunity to play a small part in the governance of the great city of Ennis, Texas. It has been my honor to serve the citizens of Ennis for the past 31years and I look forward to the remainder of my final year of service,” Howerton said.
A memo was sent to the city’s commission from Howerton in January expressing his plans to retire at the end of the year. In Howerton’s memo, he told the mayor and commissioners he would make his formal announcement in September.
Howerton joined the city’s staff as city manager after serving as the city manager of LaMarque. He also worked for Proctor and Gamble Distributing, Texas State University and the city of San Marcos.
During Howerton’s service with the city, he has served under six mayors, Jim Bob Wilson, Willie D. Murff, Stan Lambert, Tom Abram, Bill Lewis and current mayor Russell Thomas. He has also served with three mayors pro-tem, 22 commissioners and five Ennis ISD superintendents.
“I have seen and proud to be a part of the continued growth of the city,” Howerton said
Looking forward to the growth of the city, Howerton campaigned for several objectives to ensure the city would have the needed facilities and economic stability.
One of Howerton’s objectives was to finance, construct and equip a quality, acute care hospital for the citizens of Ennis and to put in place a management system that will ensure the long-term viability and success of the hospital and medical community within the city of Ennis.
The hospital (Ennis Regional Medical Center) was financed, constructed and equipped at a cost of $35,000,000 ($15,000,000 provided by city of Ennis and $20,000,000 provided by Province Health Care. The hospital became operational during July of 2007.
Howerton worked on a program to improve the financial condition of the city of Ennis throughout the five-year economic downturn (2008-2012) without reducing services or reducing employee pay or staffing levels.
Through his efforts the financial condition of the city of Ennis was improved throughout the five-year economic downturn (2008-2012). The general fund balance of the city of Ennis increased from $4,083,444 to $6,455,305 (58.1 percent) during the five-year period. City services were not reduced during the five-year period. No employee pay reductions, furloughs or job eliminations occurred during the five-year period. At the same time, to minimize the local impact of the economic downturn, the city tax rate was reduced twice and held constant at the lower level for the period. During the period the city’s bond rating (Standard and Poor’s) was improved to “AA-.”
Howerton set in motion a program to market and fully develop the Ennis Industrial Park (854.878 acres) in a manner that encourages maximum economic development for the city of Ennis (capital formation, job creation and payroll generation).
Currently 176 acres of the Ennis Industrial Park remains to be developed. Since 2000 the following industries have invested $454,400,000.00 within the Ennis Industrial Park: Sterilite Corporation, Lowe’s Distribution Center, CVS Pharmacy Distribution Center, JTEKT Corporation, ASMO Manufacturing, National Envelope and Alliance Data Systems. On July 13, 2010, SYSCO Corporation purchased 255.691 acres.
To support the economic growth, Howerton campaigned for several years the widening of the U.S. Highway 287 By-Pass. Looking to the project, Howerton saw safety concerns with the regional hospital and a school nearby.
To show the city’s support, Howerton received the blessing of the commission to utilize city resources to expedite the completion of the project.
The first phase of his objective began in 2007 when the city of Ennis completed the construction of the U.S. Highway 287 Bypass Frontage Road. Then the city of Ennis completed all U.S. Highway 287 Bypass utility relocations.
Phase I of the U.S. Highway Bypass (U.S. Highway 287 to State Highway 34 W.) should be completed before the end of 2013.
Howerton’s vision came closer to being a reality on Feb. 28, 2013 when full funding for the Bypass was approved by TxDOT.
For his accomplishments and dedication to the city, Howerton was recognized through a State legislature resolution in 2011 for his then 30 years of outstanding service to the city.
“While I will be leaving my professional position, I will not be leaving behind my love for the citizens of Ennis or my abiding respect, admiration and appreciation for an extraordinary city commission and a superb city staff,” Howerton said.