After two months of back and forth between the Erath County Appraisal District (ECAD) board of directors, and the entities they represent, the board will meet Tuesday morning to again address issues surrounding embattled Chief Appraiser Jerry Lee.
In addition to items of regular business, the board will meet in executive session to discuss various topics including personnel matters relevant to the chief appraiser including consideration of options for funding a more than $160,000 severance package offered to Lee following the non-renewal of his contract.
Since the taxpayer funded parting package was first offered, a number of the entities within the ECAD, including Erath County, Stephenville ISD, Dublin ISD, the Middle Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (MTGCD), and Huckabay ISD have voiced their disapproval of the offer.
According to Manager Joe Cooper of the MTGCD, the groundwater district’s board of directors discussed the issue at a recent board meeting and came to a unified opinion.
“The board looked at and discussed a resolution to disapprove the action of the appraisal district board of directors, but did not sign the resolution,” Cooper said. “The MTGCD supported the appraisal board decision to not renew Lee’s contract based on the idea that if he is being let go, there must be a good reason. But, the MTGCD board does not support the severance package. If Jerry Lee is being let go, they must have good reason, and if they do, they do not need to provide a severance package.”
The feeling of the MTGCD board is similar to concerns voiced by other taxing entities. The majority asks if Lee’s current contract will expire at the end of the year, why offer a severance package? The entities assume the offer was made to protect the ECAD since the package comes with a no future claims policy, which would prohibit Lee from filing a lawsuit against the appraisal district and its board of directors.
At a special called meeting of the ECAD board held Nov. 4, one board member made the point that Lee has not been terminated from the district. It could be that following a whirlwind of debate and finger pointing, the chief appraiser will keep his position. The reconsideration of Lee’s contract is also on Tuesday’s agenda.
The ECAD board of directors meets Tuesday at 8 a.m. in the boardroom of the appraisal district office located at 1390 Harbin Drive.
How local taxing entities feel about the Erath County Appraisal District board of directors’ decision to not renew Chief Appraiser Jerry Lee’s contract, then offering him a more than $160,000 severance package:
• Erath County - Signed a resolution disapproving action of the board on non-renewal of contract and severance package combined.
• Dublin ISD - Disapproved the action of ECAD board regarding both the non-renewal of Lee’s contract and the severance package offered.
• Stephenville ISD - Voted unanimously to disapprove of ANY severance package offer to Jerry Lee. The board then directed the superintendent to convey that message to SISD’s representative on the ECAD Board, Neal Guthrie.
• MTGCD - Looked at and discussed resolution to disapprove actions of ECDA board, but did not sign. MTGCD board does not support severance.
• City of Dublin - Backed the decision of the ECAD board and representative Katherine Prater. The council voted against the resolution to disapprove the appraisal board’s action in a 6-1 vote.
• City of Stephenville - Resolution was never presented to the council.
• Huckabay ISD - Adopted resolution to disapprove severance package offer.
• Bluff Dale ISD - Decided to take no action. The district is closely monitoring the actions of the ECAD board. According to Superintendent Ben Chaplin, if an amendment to fund the severance package is approved, the school board will consider adopting a resolution to disapprove that amendment.
• Lingleville ISD - According to Superintendent Dennis Hughes, the LISD board of trustees voted 6 “for” and 1 “against” taking no action on the resolution to disapprove the action of the appraisal board. The LISD board decided to wait to see how the appraisal district addresses the budget amendment to provide Lee’s severance package.
• Morgan Mill ISD - Has not addressed the issue.
• Three Way ISD - The school board was presented a resolution to disregard action, and chose to take no action at this time. According to Superintendent Cindy Edwards, the district is monitoring the ECAD and if a resolution to fund Lee’s severance package is approved, the school board will consider disapproving the amendment.
Other taxing entities in the ECAD but not in the county: DeLeon ISD, Gordon ISD, Hico ISD, Hico Emergency Service, Iredell ISD, Lipan ISD, and Santo ISD.