Interim City Manager Ann Farris handled the city’s budget and knew of financial issues as early as 2015, according to a document received by the Herald Monday on the eve of the Killeen City Council’s scheduled discussion about whether to move Farris out of the temporary position.
Farris first told the council of the city’s financial problems on June 30, in advance of annual budget discussions. Farris had been over the finance department for three years, as assistant city manager for internal services, but her level of involvement with the finances had been unclear.
“Farris micromanaged all aspects of budget, delayed hiring finance staff and was more interested in teaching me and (Executive Director of Human Resources) Eva Bark how to be leaders every Wednesday than allowing me time to work on the budget with minimal staff,” according to a city document received city Monday afternoon by the Herald. “She called (the) budget ‘my homework.’”
The handwritten notes appear to be from Karen Evans of the finance department. They are written on an April 13, 2015, memo from Farris to the staff saying Evans had declined the city’s offer to make Evans the executive director of finance.
The note writer said she discussed salary with Farris and told Farris it wasn't worth it because “we are not in good shape due to deficit budget(ing).’
“Ann told me that we can’t tell the “soldiers” (staff) that because it will scare them.”
The three pages of notes started with: “Ann Farris called me to her office to discuss the job offer after telling others I was the new finance director without consulting with me about the offer.”
The notes ended with: “Ann Farris affected my health and my family life. That’s why I did not take the job.”
The Herald contacted Farris, her secretary and city spokeswoman Hilary Shine for a response but had not yet received a comment by deadline.
“Ann spent at least 30 minutes telling me my faults and her virtues,” according to the notes. Farris said she was in Mensa, was the high school valedictorian and was ‘typically the smartest person in the room, in fact, I’m (Farris) the smartest person in any room,’ according to the written notes.
Tuesday (Oct. 4), after a 4 p.m. workshop, the council will consider a memorandum to relieve Farris of her interim duties and consider other options for the position.
The council last Tuesday went into a special, closed session to discuss Farris. Council members all declined to speak about that session.
If the council were to remove Farris, it likely would return her to her previous position of assistant city manager. The assistant city manager reports to the city manager, who reports to the council.
According to the city’s charter, the council has complete power to both appoint and remove the city manager, but it’s unclear how that relates to the interim city manager or to an assistant city manager when there is not a city manager.
A city manager who has spent more than six months in office, would have the right to a public hearing prior to the final removal date. During that time, the city manager may not be permanently removed from office, but he or she will be suspended until the hearing is complete.
But there lies a gray area as to whether Farris should be treated as the city manager. According to the same charter, the council cannot make decisions regarding the employment of subordinates to the city manager.
Farris has this title in an interim role, but she received it after the departure of previous City Manager Glenn Morrison in April. Morrison had hired her as the assistant city manager in January 2013.
Moving forward, the council also is scheduled to get an update regarding the ongoing search for a more permanent candidate to fill the position vacated April 5 when Morrison retired amid residents’ and some council members’ continued requests for city financial information.
The discussion on Farris is one of several issues at back-to-back council sessions.
The first session is a 4 p.m. workshop to discuss the potential freeze in pay raises to city employees, including civil service employees, such as police and firefighters. The freeze was factored into the fiscal year 2017 budget approved Sept. 13 but the council later learned an ordinance was required to do that.
Both city council meetings Tuesday are at the city’s Utility Collections building, 210 W. Avenue C. The discussion about Farris will be after the workshop concludes.
Digital Producer Angel Sierra contributed to this report.