Temporary fix: Lyons tackles city budget with temp workers, out-of-town help

June, 2014 Posted in News

By Mary Owen

The city of Lyons is moving forward in the wake of recent city staff resignations.

Since September 2012, four employees have quit due to what they describe as a “hostile work environment.”

“We have hired two temps to help with our budget process,” Mayor Dan Burroughs said. “We have to get our books ready by July 1 for the 2014-15 fiscal year.”

Burroughs said budget preparation that usually starts in January has not been done, and the temporary replacements had no knowledge about how to go about it.

“We had to get help from three other cities about that,” he said. “They had people come up and help the girls in the office. That was pretty darn nice.”

Kristin Rea and Pam Philippi are filling the vacancies left when City Manager Mary Mitchell and Assistant City Manager Audrey McNerney resigned in March.

Doug Miller in public works also resigned. The trio cited a hostile work environment caused by Councilor Mark Orr’s actions, making it impossible to work.

Another office worker, Tami Owen, resigned in September 2012, citing similar issues.

Heated discussions took place at a recent council meeting, with several people asking for Orr’s resignation, but no resolution has been reached at this time, Burroughs said.

“He’s a voted-in official,” he said about Orr. “Council rules are such that we can’t vote him out or make him leave. We’re just kind of stuck.”

Councilor Orr did not return Our Town’s calls by press time.

In November’s general election, Orr’s seat on the council will come before the voters. Meanwhile, Burroughs said, “We just want to keep the city going for now.”

Public response to the situation has been mixed, Burroughs added.

“We’ve got some people who are not happy with Orr’s actions,” he said. “Some are happy with the changes in city hall. Others are just up in the air with the whole thing. And me, I’m pulling my hair out.”

Burroughs said following the budget process, the council will review how to best fill the positions.

“We may go to a city recorder instead of a city manager,” he said. “Basically, it’s the same job, but city recorder takes a bit of power away. Things would have to go through city council.”

Once the city council decides which direction to take, Burroughs said the city will advertise the positions and hire new staff.

“We’ve had a couple of people show interest, but we want to discuss it and see what we are going to do,” he said. “We’re not sure yet about what it will take to run city hall – one person or two, full-time or part-time.”

The city will also have to fill the vacant seat left by Councilor Byron Brown, who is moving out of town.

“We were sure glad to get him,” Burroughs said. “He was really straightforward, good in the community. He was his own man, and didn’t listen to what anyone else told him to do. We’ll miss him.”

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