COPPERAS COVE — The city terminated 139 employees since 2012. Of those employees, 77 were listed as full time.

Kevin Keller, spokesman for the city, said the city did not keep track of how many department heads resigned, retired or were fired, but of the 139 employees, at least one was former Copperas Cove Fire Chief Burney Baskett.

Keller said he could not clarify personnel records obtained by the Herald in an open records request. The records did not specify each employee’s position or department, or if the “terminated” employee decided to resign, retire or was fired.

City records indicate 41 employees were fired, resigned or retired in 2012, 83 in 2013 and 15 in the 2014 calendar year.

That means that due to yearly fluctuations in city staff, Copperas Cove’s average turnover was 14 percent in 2012, rose to 29 percent in 2013 and currently is at 5 percent this year.

Keller said there are a total of 305 city employees, including seasonal employees. Copperas Cove has about 20 positions unfilled, and has hired 62 people this year.

Employees leave for various reasons, he said, but reasons could include retirements, relocation, other employment, compensation or a combination of the options listed.

To retain employees, the city provides a competitive compensation and benefits package, recognition programs, seeks employee feedback through city manager focus groups, a learning environment, conducts regular performance appraisals, provides professional development training opportunities, and works to keep employees engaged, he said.

The most recent city staff raise occurred in October, when some city employees received a merit based raise of up to 3 percent of their salary, depending on evaluations, Keller said.

The city spent about $11.5 million on employee salaries and benefits in fiscal year 2013, according to city documents.

The city manager’s department budget was $243,000 in salary and benefits for fiscal year 2013, with a projected increase of about $27,000 in the next fiscal year.

The department with the lowest salary and benefits budgeted in the Parks and Leisure Cemetery department, with a salary of $30,000.

The highest budgeted department salary-wise is police services, with about $4.4 million funding 71 police officers’ salaries.

The longest tenured employee is Joe Wooten, public works wastewater chief plant operator, who was hired by the city in July 1978, Keller said.

Contact Courtney Griffin at or 254-501-7559

(1) comment


Now the 14% average turnover rate in the City of Copperas Cove (which is slightly higher than the 12% average turnover rate experienced during the same year in Killeen) does not surprise anyone. The irony is the Copperas Cove City Manager and Killeen City Manager have one commonality--Chief Jerry Gardner.

The Copperas Cove City Manager collaborates with Killeen's City Manager to keep her husband from being terminated for due cause (totaled a city fleet vehicle in a hit and run when he ran into a state sign, totaled a city fleet vehicle when he was returning from a seminar allegedly under the influence of some substance, has a habit of driving his kids around in his city fleet vehicle, which is against city policy (and frankly might be a little dangerous given his history), allegedly had a sexual harassment suit filed against him, allegedly had his City of Killeen fleet vehicle pulled out of ditches by the local towing company due to his drinking and driving).
Yet Andrea Gardner, his wife, has been described as a hyprocrite who terminates many others for much smaller reasons. Her husband, Chief Gardner, however provides guidance to her about how a Fire Department should run - and why does she keep terminating the Chief of the Fire Department?!?! How do these City Managers get any work done with all the mutual back scratching?

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