Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge City commissioner resigns in midst of meeting about city manager

Breckenridge City commissioner resigns in midst of meeting about city manager
August 11
08:32 2022

By Carla McKeown and Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge City Commissioner Greg Akers verbally resigned Tuesday night, leaving a special commission meeting during the closed-door executive session where they were discussing the finalists for the city manager position. He officially submitted a letter of resignation by email Wednesday evening.

Akers said that he resigned after realizing that there are irreconcilable differences between him and some of the other commissioners. When asked if his resignation was directly related to the discussion and disagreement the commissioners had Tuesday night about who to choose for the city manager’s position, he said, “This was the final straw is really what is was.”

Click here to read his letter of resignation:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve the community of Breckenridge. I must at this time officially resign my role as commissioner. I believe the best way for me to serve our community, is (to) do it as a (private) citizen. This will be effective 08/09/2022. I wish the best for the city, its commission, and staff.

Akers, a local businessman who was elected to the city commission earlier this year, said that now that he has resigned from the commission, he intends to continue to work as a private citizen in the community to help the city grow.

Greg Akers resigned from his position on the Breckenridge City Commission on Tuesday during a special meeting to consider candidates for the city manager position. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

“Helping the city grow with housing, helping the city grow with businesses, you know, trying to continue what I’ve already started, and that is… renovate an old building and turn it into an opportunity for businesses to come, being a vocal member of the community, trying to get this town to grow. That’s where I see myself, being able to help more that way than I can on the commission,” Akers said.

The commissioners met at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, and immediately went into executive session to discuss the city manager candidates. After about an hour and a half, they reconvened in open session and voted to hire former Rhome City Administrator Cynthia Northrop for the position. There was no public discussion about the candidates or the commissioners’ decision. Commissioners Vince Moore, Gary Mercer and Rob Durham voted in favor of hiring Northrop, and Mayor Bob Sims voted against hiring her. Akers had already left the meeting and didn’t vote. However, he has said that he was not in favor of hiring her.

The position became open in June when Ericka McComis resigned after less than 11 months as city manager. Dozens of applicants were narrowed down to about six who were interviewed by the commissioners, Akers said. By Tuesday night, the pool had been narrowed to two candidates, Northrop and a local candidate, who has not been publicly named by anyone with the City of Breckenridge.

The commission voted to hire Northrop less than four months after the Rhome City Council issued a proclamation in support of Northrop. According to an article in the Wise County Messenger, the action was taken during a special Rhome city council meeting that was called after then-mayoral candidate Patricia Mitchell posted information about Northrop on the Rhome Watch Facebook page.

According to documents that Mitchell obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, Northrop was terminated from her position as the Assistant Executive Director with the Dayton Community Development Corporation in 2019 after it was discovered that she had used a DCDC credit card for an unauthorized purchase. Affidavits and other documents posted to the public Facebook page state that Northrop used the credit card to pay for a $400 membership in the International City/County Management Association. The membership was reportedly purchased using her personal email and phone number; if it had been paid for through the DCDC, the cost would have been $200. She allegedly did not have permission to make the purchase.

Then, according to the documents, she violated DCDC policy by approving the receipt herself. The “Performance Counseling” form posted on the Rhome Watch Facebook page on April 12, 2022, says that her actions not only resulted in additional expenses for the organization but also resulted in a loss of trust and confidence in her as an employee of the DCDC. The form stated that the only beneficiary of her actions was Northrop herself.

Mitchell went on to win her bid for mayor of Rhome, a Wise County town about 15 miles southeast of Decatur. She was sworn in on May 18. According to the minutes of the May 18 Rhome City Council meeting, the council voted to require a third party be present during any meetings between Mitchell and Northrop, as well as have 24 hours notice for meetings between the two. According to a May 20 Wise County Messenger article, the rule was reportedly put in place because of past criticism of Northrop by Mitchell on the Rhome Watch Facebook page.

The rule appears to have had little impact on resolving issues in the Rhome city government, because on Thursday, Aug. 4, Northrop left the city administrator position. The Wise County Messenger published an article and two letters to the editor (“How it got to this point” and “Let mayor do her job”) about the issue in Wednesday’s issue, Aug. 10.

According to one of the letters to the editor by a city council member, there was a hostile work environment within the City of Rhome offices. Five employees, department heads and other staff members have reportedly left in the past year – three in the past three months. The article states that the Rhome mayor pro tem read a statement connecting the resignations to the actions of the former mayor, a former city council member and the current mayor.

According to the article, Northrop will be paid $125,000 in severance pay by the City of Rhome, as well as earn $50 an hour as a consultant. The consulting contract will continue through February 2023. The letter by council member Elaine Priest states that the City of Rhome negotiated a legal release in which Northrop agrees to not file lawsuits against the city or any individual in their official capacity.

City of Breckenridge officials did not reveal Northrop’s expected salary for the Breckenridge city manager’s job and said they do not know when her expected start date will be.

In addition to the Rhome and Dayton jobs, Northrop also has worked in the following positions, according to a PDF of Northrop’s resume provided to the Breckenridge Texan by the City of Breckenridge following Tuesday’s meeting:

  • Assistant to the City Manager in Alvin (May 2018 to May 2019)
  • CEO of Northrop Communications (April 2015-May 2018 and` Nov 2019-current)
  • Senior Vice-President of Public Engagement for OCGPR in Fort Worth (March 2014 – April 2015)
  • Public Information/Government Public Affairs Manager for the Texas Department of Transportation in Dallas (January 2009 – March 2014)
  • County Commissioner, Pct. 1 – Denton County (January 2001-December 2008)

She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of North Texas. She also is a Certified Public Manager.

 

Cutline, top photo: The Breckenridge City Commission held a special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9, to consider the finalists for the city manager position. They voted 3-1 to hire former Rhome City Administrator Cynthia Northrop. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 

Editor’s Note: On Aug. 26, 2022, the Breckenridge Texan amended this article to say that Cynthia Northrop “left the city administrator position” in Rhome, rather than “resigned from” the position, after we were alerted on Aug. 25 that the City of Rhome had posted a statement on its Facebook page clarifying the issue for its citizens. According to that statement, “The City (of Rhome) approved a no fault, amicable separation agreement with the former city administrator (Northrop) for $125,000.00. The city administrator did not resign.” The Breckenridge Texan apologizes for any confusion that may have resulted from our use of the word “resigned.”

 


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