Wednesday marked the end of an era at Killeen City Hall as assistant city manager Ann Farris, a five-year veteran of the city, officially retired.
At a Killeen City Council meeting Jan. 23, Farris, 67, was recognized by the council and offered quick remarks on her turbulent time with the city.
“I want to thank you for the adventure — every single day was interesting,” she said. “On Feb. 1, my role changes, but my commitment to this place does not.”
Farris, who previously served as interim city manager from April to October of 2016, was at the center of the city’s most turbulent budget cycle in years, and was one of few in upper management that remained from 2016’s budget crisis.
Farris declined an interview with the Herald this week.
Farris came on with the city of Killeen in January 2013 as assistant city manager of internal services, handpicked by former City Manager Glenn Morrison from among a group of 50 applicants.
Farris, who worked as an associate professor of policy studies at Texas A&M University-Central Texas at the time of her hiring, was a deputy superintendent for the Killeen Independent School District from 1997 to 2004.
In her role with the district, Farris supervised 65 educators, arranged training and maintained the district’s information technology system at a time when the district claimed about 35,000 students and had a $218 million budget, according to her resume.
After 32 years in the district, Farris resigned from the position in 2004, while earning an annual salary of $116,632.
Farris also served as co-director of the Killeen Food Care Center from 2005 to 2015.
Upon Morrison’s resignation in April 2016, Farris, who oversaw the finance department during her time as assistant manager, was appointed interim city manager by the Killeen City Council. Within a few months, Farris became the object of public scrutiny when she brought a preliminary annual budget before the council with a projected $8 million shortfall.
Aided by concerns over her management ability, the council denied Farris an approximately $30,000 raise in July 2016, which would have raised her salary to $178,532.
After months of spending cuts to balance the 2017 budget, which was approved in September, the council voted to remove Farris from her post Oct. 4, 2016, with council members saying she did not present a coherent budget.
“We all saw the weaknesses in the budget,” then-Councilman Jim Kilpatrick said. “The city manager did not provide the council a budget. ... The council made the budget.”
A day earlier, documents released to the Herald alleged Farris was aware of the city’s financial problems in at least April 2015, reportedly telling subordinates not to inform staff of the budget concerns because “it will scare them.”
Former Police Chief Dennis Baldwin was appointed interim city manager in her place.
Farris was kept on with the city through 2017 as assistant city manager after the council voted to hire City Manager Ron Olson in February.
On Thursday, Killeen Director of Communications Hilary Shine said she did not know Farris’ future plans. The city did not release Farris’ expected retirement benefits.
As a five-year employee of the city over the age of 60, Farris is fully vested and eligible for a retirement pension through the Texas Municipal Retirement System, which covers all city employees except firefighters.