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What would happen if employees in your city resigned?

Posted: 10:38 PM, Sep 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-23 20:03:40-04

GHOLSON, TX — Government in the Lampasas County city of Kempner is sitting in limbo after several city employees resigned, leading to the closure of city hall .

What would happen if that same scenario played out in your town?

How a city handles an employee walkout depends on its size. Bigger cities have more options than small towns, but one thing seems constant in Texas, when elected to lead- you have to get to work.

The City of Gholson sits about 10 miles north of Waco, along the Brazos River, with a similar population size as Kempner.

In Gholson, Jim Rich doesn't see an employee walkout happening.

"These people that's on our city council, they do a good job and they catch all the bull that people don't want to do," he said.

He said city council people in Gholson do for their town no matter what. Even with one councilman who bowed out and another in a coma from a traffic accident, city business still gets done.

"We just barely have enough people to hold a meeting right now, but we're doing it, we're doing it," said City Council Member Russell Smith.

Gholson uses private companies for some services and partners with McLennan County for others in order to make sure city business gets done, whether the one city employee shows up for work or not.

Bigger cities have a few more options. Mexia City Manager Eric Garretty says cities his size can order employees back to work or get a court order. Texas also gives broad discretion in filling jobs on an emergency basis.

Russell Devorsky, Executive Director of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, said he'd advise Kempner City Council members to roll up their sleeves and get to work at city hall.

He said it could take up to three days to negotiate and ratify a deal to transfer services to Bell County, that is if it could reach a deal in the first place. He also said Texas law automatically qualifies the mayor as municipal judge, meaning a mayor could take over immediately.

Jim Reed from the Central Texas Council of Governments said the only thing they've talked with Kempner about is a 911 situation about a week ago.

Russel Smith said it's all about pitching in.

”We had a storm here a few years ago, and we had trees down all over, all over the community, and the county came and they spent hours out here. Before bedtime we had it all cleaned up and all the roads back open,” he explained.

Meantime, folks like Jim Rich worry about Kempner and the hurt feelings created by the drama.

"Oh no, and it probably won't ever get done the way they did before they quit," he said.

Most say the longer this drama goes on, the worse the damage to the city its citizens and its leaders.