The Bosque Farms Village Council approved the appointment of its police chief, city administrators and city treasurer at a special meeting on Wednesday.
The appointments of Police Chief Louie Burkhart and City Treasurer Julia Olona were approved unanimously.
Mayor Roger Baldwin recommended that the council approve the appointment of Julie Harding as city administrator despite the fact that she had sent a letter of resignation to Counselors Ken Hays, Ginger Eldridge and David Linthicum.
“I want to know if the council wants to offer the job to Julie Harding,” Baldwin said. “Once that is decided, then it is up to Julie if she wants to rescind her letter of resignation.”
Linthicum read Harding’s letter and then asked “Does the letter not mean anything? In it, she said her last day of employment would be April 19.”
The letter said that Harding felt it was degrading for her to receive a request in writing from Eldridge for her resume “so that research can be done.”
The letter continued, “For the past year and a half, I have been able to perform the duties of my position, have been praised for doing a good job, and have never been questioned otherwise.”
Harding indicated she does not feel she has the support of Eldridge, Hays and Linthicum, “despite repeated assurances from all of you that I did. . . . The bottom line is that, without your support, I cannot effectively perform the duties of my position.
“Due to your recent demands and actions, I have no other choice than to believe that I have been constructively discharged from my duties. In fairness to the mayor to find a replacement for my position, my last day of employment will be April 19.”
“Is she going to leave or not? If she is going to leave, why are we appointing her to the position?” Linthicum asked.
“I would like to see if she will stay if the council approves her appointment,” Baldwin responded.
“It is my belief, when you quit, you quit. If you want to re-apply, you do that,” Eldridge said.
“Looking at the circumstances, Julie thought she needed to leave. The village would benefit from her knowledge and experience if you would stay,” Baldwin said.
“There are any number of incidents where someone will submit a letter of resignation, but then rescind it,” said Councilor Wayne Ake. “Julie Harding has demonstrated that she is a good, capable and loyal employee of the village’s citizens.”
Hays told Harding publicly that he had given her his word in March to support her. “I gave my word then, and I support you now.”
During comments from the audience, various citizens expressed their feelings about the situation.
“I feel like David Linthicum: when you resign, you resign,” said Roy Carson. “I don’t feel she can rescind her resignation. I’m afraid when a person is upset with the village, and goes to the media, that it will give them leverage they will be able to use against the village.”
One resident said that he had sent a letter of resignation to his employer, but after discussion of the issues, he had decided to rescind it. “It meant eating some humble pie …” David Patterson said. “Rescinding a letter of resignation is an OK thing to do.”
“As a business owner, I have experienced receiving a letter of resignation from an employee. After things were talked out and the issues were dealt with, the employee returned and is today one of our most valued employees,” Sandy McCallister said. “You (councilors) need to look at the issues and understand what has happened and give Julie an opportunity to reconsider.”
Richard Thompson added, “a letter of resignation is not a walk out the door; it’s a signal to work through some issues.”
Other citizens expressed their support of Harding and asked her to reconsider her resignation.
When the question was called to a vote, Hays and Ake voted yes immediately, and Linthicum voted no. Eldridge took a full minute to make her final decision, which was to vote yes.
After the meeting, Harding said, “I will have to talk this over with my husband before I decide if I’m going to rescind my resignation.”
Once the issue regarding the village administrators was decided, the council attempted to fill positions on four boards, including planning and zoning, library, personnel and Keep Bosque Farms Beautiful.
With a list of 43 people in front of them, the councilors had to fill 15 positions.
A concern arose when Hays and Eldridge said there were names of people on the list who didn’t even know they were on the list.
“There are five or six people on this list that didn’t even know they were on the list,” Hays said.
“I called a large percent of these people,” Eldridge said. “And many said they had not been contacted or never indicated they were interested in serving on these boards. I don’t feel I can appoint from this list in good faith.
“I know who they are,” Baldwin said of the list he proposed.
“Obviously, you have information we don’t have,” Eldridge said.
Resident Virgil Proctor said he had provided a list of potential people to Baldwin. “Some of the individuals had not returned my call to indicate they were interested. I apologize about the confusion, I was just trying to help,” he said.
Another issue arose regarding the qualifications of the nominees. Linthicum had developed a form that the potential appointees would fill out to help the councilors know more about them.
“This form is basic information so we can know who is working for us,” Linthicum said of the form he developed. “We have no information about the people on this list.”
Included in the requested information were occupation, “activity you would like to volunteer for,” professional licenses, experience that would be helpful in working on the selected activity, activities and organization you’ve been involved with, “able to speak fluently, read or write a language other than English,” and four references.
The councilors and mayor liked the form.
“I think we need to know who we are talking about,” Ake said after the meeting.
“I’m OK with the form,” Hays said after the meeting.
But Baldwin was not happy that the form had been circulated in the community without the village office knowing about it.
“Anything that has to do with the village has to come through the village office. No one came in and told our staff about the form, it just started showing up filled out by people,” Baldwin said. “Before such a form is used, we need to ask our attorney if any of the questions are illegal. We don’t want a good idea to backfire and cause legal problems.”
The question of appointments to the four boards was tabled.