Posted: Monday 9/3/18
Updated: Wednesday 9/5/18
By BOB PALMER
The agenda for a Jefferson City Council meeting Thursday includes an executive session dealing with the city administrator’s contract as well as complaints and grievances with possible action to follow in open session.
At the council’s last meeting, aldermen said they intended to take action on a petition signed by more than 200 residents calling for the dismissal of City Administrator Kevin Huckabee.
The issue of Huckabee’s continued employment with the city has created sharp divisions among Jefferson residents.
Former Alderman Richard Turner is one of the most vocal critics of Huckabee.
“I have not seen eye to eye with (Huckabee) for the past 18 months,” Turner said. “I thought he has not been effective. (Huckabee) has not understood the difference between manager and administrator.”
Turner also questioned Huckabee’s veracity.
“On many occasions he has lied to me as an individual and to me as a city alderman,” Turner said.
Former Mayor Carey Heaster has a different view.
“My main thing is there are two sides to every story,” Heaster said. “I don’t believe that both sides have been told.”
Heaster noted he had enjoyed a good working relationship with Huckabee.
“The time he worked with me, (Huckabee) has been very cordial and done anything I asked him to do.”
Alderman Jim Finstrom offered another perspective.
“I think as a city administrator (Huckabee) has been excellent,” Finstrom said. “His people skills have not always been good. I’ve never had a problem with him, but I hear things.”
The three took different paths on whether the city should end Huckabee’s employment.
“I don’t believe there is anything to release (Huckabee) on,” Heaster said. Show me a fact. You just don’t terminate him because you don’t like him.”
Finstrom agreed to a point.
“I would like to retain him at least to the end of the street and water and sewer line projects,” Finstrom said. “I assume he is looking for other employment.”
Turner believes there are clear reasons for dismissal.
“He should be terminated because of the many various things that are unethical and against the law,” Turner said. “This has covered a complete span of his entire career here.”
Turner claimed Huckabee illegally signed a contract to purchase the property on Alley Street with the Genesis Prime Care offices.
“The contract never came before the city council,” Turner said.
“That’s not true,” Heaster said. “The council was involved with every bit of that stuff.”
An examination of the City of Jefferson minute books showed that on Feb. 21, 2017, the council voted to give “Kevin Huckabee permission to move forward with negotiating the acquisition of real property.”
Permission to negotiate the purchase of property was granted again on March 21 on a 4-2 vote with Turner and Shawn Humphrey voting no.
On June 20, the council approved “the purchase of property on Alley Street” although Turner said the minute book entries referred to purchase of another piece of property adjacent to the Genesis Prime Care building.
Heaster noted some of Huckabee’s accomplishments.
“(Huckabee) has taken care of or working on several projects,” Heaster said. “He got the restrooms built. He negotiated a good contract with commercial dumpsters. The city got a fee and the fire department got $1,000. He’s working on a grant for a new fire station.”
Heaster also could see the bottom line.
“The city is in better financial state than any time in the past,” Heaster said.
Finstrom praised Huckabee’s ability to secure grants and getting water, sewer and street improvements launched.
“Huckabee has saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Finstrom said.
Turner was not swayed.
Turner has also complained to the Texas Secretary of State’s office that Huckabee and his wife Amy voted in the May municipal election in Ward 3 when their residence is in
Ward 1. Turner furnished a copy of the Jefferson early voting roster for the May 2018 election to the Jimplecute.
“I think his accomplishments have been vastly overrated and overstated,” Turner said.
The Thursday meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:35 p.m. following a public hearing on the city’s proposed tax rate.
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