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Letter from Palestine Mayor regarding City Manager

PALESTINE, January 31, 2014 -- Below is a letter from Palestine Mayor Therrell Thomas regarding recent inquiries into City Manager Wendy Ellis' residency.

From the Desk of Mayor Therrell Thomas:

 In 2013, the City of Palestine experienced a year of positive change and transition.  “The City Council worked diligently and efficiently to ensure 2014 would continue positive improvements for the citizens of Palestine, said Mayor Therrell Thomas. “We appreciate our citizens and their optimistic approach to progress.”

As 2014 unfolds, the city of Palestine continues to improve on the responsiveness of local government and citizen engagement. Whenever you have transition in a City manager’s office it is often challenging to maintain continuity and momentum. However, the City Council worked effectively to ensure a smooth transition. Moving forward in compliance with the city guidelines a new city manager was named.  Wendy Ellis was hired as city manager in October of 2013. Ms. Ellis had served as Economic Development Director for the City of Palestine for 3 and ½ years prior to her appointment as interim City Manager.  Her willingness to accept the position as City Manager allows the city to continue our positive momentum.   The City had a qualified and committed candidate ready to step in and fill the void in our leadership team. The City of Palestine prides itself on being able to grow our employees and promote from within whenever possible. Ms. Ellis has a proven track record with the City and we anticipate continued success in her new position.   She has a concern for the city of Palestine and understands our vision for a bright future.   Wendy Ellis fit the bill perfectly with her economic development background, management experience and proven abilities. 

In hiring an existing city employee it created a unique opportunity to grow our city’s tax base. 

Per the City Charter, “the council, by a majority vote of the entire council, shall appoint a city manager who shall be the chief administrative and executive officer of the city. He shall be chosen by the council solely on the basis of his executive and administrative training, experience, ability, character, and need not when appointed be a resident of the city. However, he shall become a resident of the city immediately after appointment unless otherwise specifically excused by the council.”  As a stipulation of the employment contract, The Council specifically excused the requirement in Section 6.1 of the City Charter that Employee be a resident of the City of Palestine; provided, however, that this excuse will be withdrawn should Employee move from her current residence. Provided further, however, the employee agrees to request that the City annex the property where her current residence is located. The City Manager’s property currently joins the City. So this will not affect any other property owners. We have no plans for any other annexation at this time. By annexing property the City gains a larger tax base.  By placing this stipulation in Ms. Ellis’s contract, the City Council stayed true to the City Charter and found a unique solution to filling our personnel needs.

“I am looking forward to a positive 2014.  Engaged citizens, in addition, to responsive government equals city wide growth and progress.  We are truly blessed,” says Mayor Thomas.  

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