Austin City Council fires Spencer Cronk as city manager

Austin City Council has decided to remove City Manager Spencer Cronk. 

The move comes after the council had decided that Cronk had to go following the handling of the recent storm that left nearly 200,000 people without power

Cronk will get severance pay of just over $463,000 and former Austin City Manager Jesús Garza will take over as interim on Feb. 16.

City Council voted 10-1 to oust Cronk with Natasha Harper-Madison voting no.

Harper-Madison said, "When I consider the depth and breadth of challenges our community is facing, I do not believe terminating the city manager is the most measured or reasonable decision at this time. Today, I chose not to support the immediate termination of our city manager because this action will not solve the systemic issues within our city government or our collective response to the recent winter storm."

Cronk became Austin's city manager in 2018 after a search of more than a year and a half for someone to fill the role. He previously served as city coordinator in Minneapolis.

Cronk issued a statement saying, "I serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and Council and acknowledge their decision.  In our Council-Manager form of government, the elected officials ultimately decide whether I am the right choice for them to lead our organization."

"I stand proud of our organizational accomplishments under my tenure.  I thank the Austin community for the opportunity to lead this great city, and I thank our City employees for their consistent commitment to providing the very best public service."

The removal of Cronk comes as no surprise as sources told FOX 7 Austin that the decision was made unanimously in executive session on February 8.  Then over the weekend, news broke that an addendum was added to today's city council meeting in which council members would be discussing severance benefits to Cronk.

After today's vote, City Council member Vanessa Fuentes tweeted, in part, "The City of Austin must operate with a clear vision of responsiveness, trust, and transparency. Our city is rapidly growing, and with this comes the need to overcome many new and existing challenges. I believe the decision to appoint Jesus Garza as our Interim City Manager reflects our commitment to move forward and serve those we represent."

City Council member Alison Alter also tweeted, in part, "Today we took an important vote for the future of our City. I remain steadfast in my hope for a community that can do more than weather storms—an Austin that can deliver essential services, foster trust, grow our workforce and lay the foundation for families to thrive."

Jesús Garza begins his term as the Interim City Manager tomorrow. 

Garza previously led Austin as City Manager from 1994 to 2002, while Kirk Watson was mayor the first time.

Garza was named Public Administrator of the Year by the American Society for Public Administration/Centex Chapter, Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine and received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.