By Holly Wise and Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
LAMPASAS - The Lampasas City Council took no action Friday night in appointing an interim city manager after spending nearly two hours in executive session.
"We're going to explore every option on this," Mayor Jerry Grayson told the few attendees who waited out the lengthy executive session. A decision will be made at a later meeting, he said. When asked by a member in the audience about when he expected the council to discuss the subject again, Grayson said simply, "It'll come. We're going through this with a fine-tooth comb."
At the beginning of the meeting, newly selected council member Christian Tours made a motion to conduct the discussion in open session. His motion failed with only Councilwoman TJ Monroe and Councilman Les Gerhardt supporting him.
Councilmen Bradley Neely, Wesley Alexander, Chris Harrison and Grayson voted to hold the talk behind closed doors.
Friday's meeting came on the heels of the council's decision Monday to fire City Manager Michael Stoldt.
Stoldt was fired after the council's 5-2 vote, with Monroe and Gerhardt opposing the action.
Before the vote, the council and Stoldt discussed his position for about an hour and a half. Stoldt, who made about $92,000 a year, talked about the numerous accomplishments the city made during his five years as city manager.
"I am not claiming I am a perfect city manager, but I think I have done a good job," Stoldt said on a recorded version of Monday's meeting. "It is my understanding that this meeting was called to fire me. If this City Council wants a new city manager that is fine, you have the right, but don't justify it by saying I am a poor city manager."
Among some of the accomplishments Stoldt listed were:
Increasing the city's reserve funds by about $500,000.
Completing about $10 million worth of capital improvement projects, with almost
$2 million of the funding coming from grants.
Having the highest police-officer-to-resident ratio along the U.S. Highway 190 corridor.
Decreasing the electric rate.
Reclaiming control of the city's water and wastewater operations.
"That is $2 million a year for the last five years ... and that doesn't include the
$3.8 million included in next year's budget," Stoldt said on the recording. "And all that was done while maintaining a 40-cent or less tax rate."
Harrison told Stoldt there was no doubt he has done a good job, but the council had a problem with low employee morale and how he communicates with employees.
Harrison said he talked with several employees who had problems with city operations and how problems weren't being addressed up the chain of command.
One incident Harrison cited included some employees not being invited to a birthday party at city hall.
Stoldt said he couldn't believe someone was complaining about a birthday party and noted that he doesn't socialize after hours with employees, he does not single out employees, and he has always maintained an open-door policy for them. He did admit to communication problems between him and the police department, which has "shut him out."
Even after the council took the action to fire Stoldt Monday, he provided it with a recommendation about hiring an interim city manager. He suggested the council use Texas First Group, who will place a retired city manager in the city until a new administrator is appointed.
"I am not going to run down this council. I believe as a whole, this city has the best interest of the city at heart," Stoldt said.
Contact Holly Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7555.
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcoveeditor.