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Bastrop Council to evaluate city manager

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 by Jo Clifton

The Bastrop City Council is slated to go into executive session at tonight’s meeting to evaluate City Manager Mike Talbot. New Council Member Deborah Jones told the Austin Monitor that she had discussed her concerns about Bastrop’s expenditures on attorney’s fees with Mayor Ken Kesselus. She said the mayor told her that the Council had been scheduled to perform Talbot’s evaluation in March but had not, so they should do it now. Jones defeated Kelly Gilleland in the May 7 election. Gilleland was a supporter of Talbot and his decision to continue to pay outside counsel, while Jones campaigned on a platform that included lowering the city’s legal bills. At the first meeting with new Council members Jones and Bill Peterson, the Council directed the city manager to search for an in-house attorney. The Monitor first reported that the city of less than 8,000 had spent more than $1 million in payments to outside counsel between Jan. 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016. Nearly $473,000 of that amount was paid to the law firm of Jo-Christy Brown, who handles all of Bastrop’s regular legal work. Council Member Gary Schiff was the lone member of the previous Council who argued for hiring an in-house attorney. With the new members, however, the only one to vote against finding in-house legal help was Kay McAnally.

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