FORNEY, Texas — The Forney City Council has approved a budget amendment to begin the immediate process of creating a position for and hiring a new Human Resources Director — this in the wake of former Police Chief Mica Lunt's apparent retaliatory firing.
The motion to amend the city's budget was passed unanimously by the council during their regularly scheduled meeting tonight.
According to Finance Director Deborah Woodham, the new position would amount to $34,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year and will be funded through unallocated fund balance.
"Mayor and council, one of the things that I was tasked to do upon taking this position several weeks ago was to look throughout the organization to find areas where we needed improvement and, unfortunately, the one thing that stood out the most to me, the most glaring, was the fact that we had no Human Resources Department," Interim City Manager Charles Daniels told the council.
"I think that, particularly for a city that's growing, Human Resources is more important than ever because there are gonna be instances where we need someone strong to be in that position to take care of potential problems to keep from them from being litigated," stated Daniels. "I appreciate the fact that the council has chosen to approve this because its only going to help us moving forward and we're going to move as quickly as possible to get the right person in that job."
Daniels said his preference would be to not use professional search firms at this point because they are costly and can slow the process.
The City of Forney is expected to post the job ad through the Texas Municipal League and other governmental agencies with a future annual salary range between $105,000 and $115,000.
Daniels expects to have quick responses to the job listing.
The move to hire an independent Human Resources Director was spurred after the apparent retaliatory firing of former Forney Police Department Chief Mica Lunt in March.
Lunt had filed a grievance against former City Manager Anthony "Tony" Carson alleging a pattern of improper and hostile working conditions — allegations a number of current and former employees, including from previous cities where Carson worked, have come forward and corroborated.
Just over a month later, and after a hearing on the grievance before the Forney City Council in closed-door executive session, Lunt was placed on administrative leave. The following day, March 26, 2021, Lunt was terminated.
The City of Forney nor Carson responded to our requests for comment at that time.
In May, following repeated calls for Carson's termination and numerous protests outside of City Hall, the Forney City Council authorized a separation agreement with Carson.
The City of Forney has since been put on notice by the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office to preserve records related to pending Texas Rangers investigations of potential criminal offenses related to Lunt's termination.
A claim by Lunt has discussed by the city council in executive session over the past several council meetings. Details of the claim have not been made public nor has any public action been taken by the council.
Lunt was informed in mid May that, despite calls for his reinstatement by city council and community members, he would not return as Forney's top cop, he confirmed to inForney.com at the time.
Deputy Chief Todd Eudy has been serving as interim chief of police since Lunt was placed on administrative leave on March 25.