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A key linchpin in the Fort Worth economy, American Airlines Group Inc., is considering sites for a new headquarters, possibly outside the city, the airline’s CEO said this morning.

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Cooke signs Fort Worth's offer letter, will be paid $315,000 per year

David Cooke

By Scott Nishimura
snishimura@bizpress.net

David Cooke, a former North Carolina county manager, signed Fort Worth's offer letter and will be paid $315,000 per year as Fort Worth's new city manager, the city said Wednesday.

Cooke, 54, will start June 30, the city said.

"Council began this process knowing that selecting our next city manager would be an extremly important decision," Mayor Betsy Price said. "We know that getting the right person would be crucial as we work to maintain a steady and positive growth pattern while protecting our quality of life and improving the way city hall serves citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders."

The City Council voted Tuesday to approve Cooke's hiring, pending the completion of negotiations.

Cooke's compensation package includes health and retirement benefits; $600 monthly car allowance; paid membership dues in the ICMA industry group, Texas City Management Association, and Fort Worth Club; relocation costs; $2,500 monthly housing allowance for the first six months; and up to six roundtrips from Fort Worth to Raleigh, N.C. 

City Manager Tom Higgins, who is retiring, earned a base salary of $233,000.

Higgins has said he expects to stick around for as long as Cooke needs him.

“We are pleased that Mr. Cooke has agreed to join the Fort Worth family and know that he is capable and ready to take on a vital leadership role," Higgins said in a statement Wednesday. "We have spoken and I let him know that I am ready to help in any way in the transition, and for as long as he wishes me to be here.”

The council last week narrowed its search to Cooke as lone finalist. The other finalist was Penny Postoak Ferguson, a deputy county manager from Johnson County, Kan.

“We’re very excited,” Councilman Danny Scarth, who made the motion, said.

The Whitney Smith Co., Fort Worth’s search consultant, led negotiations with Cooke.

Cooke has been business development director for Mulkey Engineers and Consultants since February.

He was Wake County manager between August 2000 and November 2013 and deputy county manager for four years beginning in 1996. Cooke retired from Wake County in November.

Wake, seated in Raleigh and North Carolina's second largest county, has 966,000 population. The county has 3,600 employees and a $1.2 billion operating budget in 2014.

Cooke’s resume says he led 13 successful bond referenda since 2000 for schools, community colleges, libraries, and open space.

He also helped recruit several major employers, including Fidelity Investments, to Wake County.

Cooke also worked for the city of Charlotte for more than 10 years.

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