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2017-11-16

The good, the bad and the ugly - Bandera city government

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

Editor’s note: I asked city council members (except for Justin Knight) and the mayor three questions regarding Rose Garr’s employment termination and so far have received no comments. I called the city administrator for a comment and she was unavailable and hadn’t responded by the time the paper went to press.
The City Council dealt with a range of topics Nov. 13, at a special meeting that adjourned at approximately 8:35 p.m. Topics included accepting the resignation of the city treasurer, listening to an update on the public works department from the interim public works director, considering and approving the 2015-16 audit as prepared by a certified accounting firm and appointing an applicant to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Lynn Palmer made the motion and Glenn Clark seconded the motion to accept the resignation of City Treasurer Rose Garr, “effective immediately.” There was no discussion about the motion. Garr submitted her resignation on Wednesday, Nov. 9, and requested a termination date of Dec. 29, 2017, reflecting the once customary, professional courtesy of providing employers with adequate notice in order optimize a smooth transition for a newly hired employee.
After the meeting, Garr cited a hostile work environment as the reason for her resignation, and said she had previously filed a complaint with city council about Garr’s working relationship with her immediate supervisor, city administrator Linda Coones. Despite the efforts of the city council to monitor and improve the situation (executive sessions with the city attorney and both employees) the tension between the employees remained unresolved. Garr described it as “not fair” to other city employees to have to endure the tension.
“I loved my job and I like my co-workers,” Garr said. “But I have too many good skills and life is too short to continue working under the stressful conditions created by the city administrator.”
Kyle McCain, interim public works director, addressed the council for about an hour and covered many specific details pertaining to the function and priorities within the public works department, including various options for road maintenance and pothole repair, really good news about water production as a result of the Mulberry Well repairs and the new well on Dallas Street, the urgency of dealing with the waste water treatment plant and the most recent setback on that front, and the abilities and strengths of current employees to tackle their duties and the need for minimum license requirements for those employees.
McCain also mentioned the job description for a Public Works Director and said that the advertisement was “extremely thorough.” He reminded council members that they were elected to serve on a council and make decisions as a group (not unilaterally), and of the importance and value, in his experience, of “chain of command” management.
McCain also underscored the importance of a city’s reputation and noted that the turn-over rate for Bandera city employees contributed to its “bad reputation.” He said that the city needed to at least appear to support city employees. “That’s why you’re not getting applications,” McCain said.
Keith Neffendorf of Neffendorf & Knopp, PC, presented an overview of the 2015-16 audit report —a three-quarters-of-an-inch-thick report of mind-numbing numbers— to the council and then went over the high points. He said that the city was in a “Good, strong financial position for a small city.”
He also described the challenge of auditing books that were previously un-auditable, as a 3-C’s process: “catch up, clean up and correction” and that those duties had fallen on the city treasurer, Rose Garr.
“It’s difficult to realize how bad they (the records) were,” he said. “Rose did a good job.” He said that Rose Garr successful prepared books in spite of deficient data (such as missing invoices and un-reconciled bank accounts) so that an independent auditor could actually conduct an audit.
The council voted unanimously to approve the 2015-16 audit.
The council ended the evening by accepting the application and appointing Lia Cloudt to serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission.