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Argyle cites costs in layoffs

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

Town secretary, clerical staffer out of work in restructuring

ARGYLE — Town officials laid off two employees recently, including the town secretary, citing a need to reorganize the town’s structure and shift duties to ensure adequate use of municipal tax dollars.

In a memo to the Town Council obtained through an open records request, Town Manager Charles West said that within the last 10 years, he believed the town staff grew too fast by adding positions that could have been combined with positions that existed.

The layoffs were a surprise to the town secretary and a clerical worker, who were told on Sept. 25 their positions were eliminated effective immediately. The council directed West to review the town’s resources to make sure Argyle was using resources in the most effective way as officials began shaping the 2013-14 budget.

The biggest change in the restructuring was elimination of the town secretary position.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, by any means,” West said.

Codi Delcambre, who had been served as town secretary since 2001, said her layoff came as a shock.

“I was told the morning of Sept. 25 at 8:05 a.m. that my job had been eliminated,” she said. “I was surprised by all of this.”

Delcambre didn’t comment further on the topic but said the quick and unexpected layoff has her now scrambling for work. She added that she valued her job and didn’t want to leave.

Now, West will absorb all of the duties of the town secretary, which he said he doesn’t expect to be more than he can handle. He will also act as the town’s human resource officer, another position Delcambre held.

In the memo, West said many of the responsibilities of the town secretary and the town manager overlapped regularly, so it will be easy to make sure they’re completed.

According to the Texas Local Government Code, the secretary of a local government is tasked with at least eight state-mandated tasks along with any other tasks appointed by the council.

Some of those tasks include attending all meetings, recording meeting minutes and keeping track of receipts, disbursements and all contracts made by the governing body.

West said the decision was made from a business and financial standpoint and referred to Delcambre as a great employee, adding that the decision was difficult.

“It was nothing personal. She was an excellent employee,” he said.

As he reviewed each position, West said he avoided reviewing the performances of each employee and focused only on whether responsibilities could be shifted.

Delcambre had a nearly flawless performance record with Argyle, according to her employee file. There were no mentions of poor performance, written complaints or unsatisfactory employee evaluations.

However, Argyle employees have not received evaluations since 2006.

From the evaluations that were available, Delcambre’s reviews tell a story of someone who valued her job and sought to “improve her performance” and “strengthen the workplace environment for every employee,” which she wrote in one evaluation.

The town also eliminated the administrative assistant/deputy court clerk position. West said there wasn’t enough work to justify maintaining the position when those duties could be accomplished by other available staff.

West cited the local government code requiring a government to have a town secretary or municipal clerk, but under Chapter 22 and sections 22.071 and 22.072 of the state code, the council has the authority to confer duties of the required positions to other officers of the municipality.

At this time, West said there aren’t any plans to make more changes to the staff. Other departments were reviewed, but he said he determined they were running adequately.

In the future, West said he expects Argyle to reinstate the town secretary position, but for now he said it’s important to make sure town finances are in line.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.