Budget was catalyst behind move, Iola city councilman says
Of Jim Kilby’s 34 years as an Iola city employee, 29 came with Judy Brigham as a colleague — he in the Iola Police Department; she at first in the utilities office, then as city clerk and finally as city administrator.
Kilby, who retired in 2008, was elected this spring as one of eight newly minted Iola City Council members.
He had been a vocal supporter of Brigham when the council hunkered down in July to discuss the 2012 budget.
“I trust our city staff,” he said at the council’s July 19 workshop.
Six weeks later, Kilby cast one of six council votes to terminate Brigham’s employment, 2½ weeks before she was to retire after 32 years with the city.
Kilby cast the vote, he said, with tears in his eyes.
Kilby declined to comment publicly about other specifics of Brigham’s termination, saying only “the budget was the catalyst.”
The city’s 2012 budget was approved by council members Tuesday night — minutes after Brigham was fired — but not before they had rejected a similar budget eight days earlier.
The budget ultimately approved by the council was nearly identical to the one rejected eight days earlier, the only difference being a $14,000 reduction in general fund spending authority — necessary to keep the city’s property tax levy virtually identical to this year.
The primary difference for the council came after looking at the official cash on hand ledgers for the city as opposed to the budget worksheets Brigham and other city workers had prepared.
The worksheets contained a number of discrepancies that were discussed extensively when councilmen approved the budget for publication July 25 — giving the public an opportunity to look over the spending plan — and what was approved this week.