Auburn’s City Council had to say goodbye to one of its long-serving members, if only for a few months, due to a conflict with the Kentucky State Retirement system.
Steve Montgomery, who has served eight years on the Auburn City Council, has officially stepped down as of Monday, July 14.
Montgomery retired June 30 from the Logan County School System after serving 34 years as a bus driver. He was informed recently by the state retirement system he cannot hold another state job after retirement unless approved, which could take up to three months.
“I was shocked when I heard from the state and informed I could not continue serving as a council member,” said Montgomery. “I could understand if I were an employee of the city, but this is an elected position.”
Montgomery says not to count him out yet, as he plans on placing his name on the ballot for the November election. Hopefully, says Montgomery, all this will be straightened out by then and he can get back to serving the citizens of Auburn once again.
Montgomery also served as the city’s fire chief for 35 years, but left that position a few years back.
Thelma Cottrell has been appointed to fill Montgomery’s vacant seat. She ran in the November 2012 election and gained 185 votes. She came in eighth in the general election right after Gayle Gregory, who was appointed last year to fill the vacant seat of Jessie Duer who had passed away during her term. This will be the first term for Cottrell on the Auburn City Council.
There are no state statutes which govern who the city council has to appoint when a vacancy occurs, only that the body has 90 days to do so or the decision lands on the desk of the governor. The Auburn City Council has historically filled council vacancies by selecting the candidate in the last election who garnished the most votes.
“I really hated to get off the council because we had the fire department grant going on and the dog food plant as well. I would have really liked to have stayed on and seen those through,” said Montgomery.