The City of Loris is now looking for a new administrator after Damon Kempski unexpectedly submitted a resignation letter that was approved by city council Monday evening.
The resignation took effect Tuesday, July 2.
In an interview with the Loris Scene Monday night, Kempski said the decision to resign was made, in part, so he could spend more time with family.
“I made a decision I had to reprioritize my life and the things that are important to me. And, I needed to change my focus. I had focused a lot of time and effort on the city now I want to focus more attention on my family,” Kempski said.
During the early minutes of Monday night’s city council meeting, Mayor Todd Harrelson spoke about Kempski’s absence, saying it would not be discussed.
“A lot of times throughout Loris and other small towns and big towns, there’s rumors and what-not that gets thrown around. And a lot of times, they are just that – rumors,” Harrelson said.
City attorney Kenneth Moss addressed that issue. While he did not say council would be breaking any laws by commenting on Kempski’s situation, he did say “very little good could come from that and so many bad things can happen.”
At the end of the meeting -- after a lengthy executive session -- council voted to accept the resignation letter which was delivered to the mayor earlier on Monday.
The letter does not give a reason for the resignation, but Moss said it was for “personal reasons.”
Kempski was not on the job all last week. The Loris Scene was told on Thursday he was taking vacation days.
After Monday’s meeting, Councilwoman Jan Vescovi -- who made the motion to accept the resignation letter -- said she did not want to comment on the rumors alluded to by the mayor.
“I am not sure what rumors he was thinking of. I haven’t spoken with him about any rumors he may have heard in the town, so I am not quite sure,” Vescovi said.
Other council members said they had no comment when asked what reported rumors.
Harrelson said he was caught off guard when he received the letter Monday.
“He did a good job for us. He did a very good job for us,” Harrelson said.
Kempski said the decision to leave was a very hard choice to make.
“Right now, I am making my family and my wife my priority,” he said. “As much as some look at it as a negative thing, it felt good while you all were at the meeting I was out to dinner with my wife.”
Concerning the mayor’s remarks about rumors, Kempski said “I am not going to entertain that. Those rumors and stuff are part of the reason that I decided to refocus my life.”
Kempski said he is proud of the job he did since being promoted from head of the city’s recreation department to administrator in March 2016. Especially, he said, because of all that happened in those three years.
“When you think about it, we had two hurricanes, two tropical storms, the death of a mayor, special elections, and all the turmoil we faced with council,” he said. “It was trial by fire.”
What happens next
Harrelson said he and City Clerk Kenya Wright will handle the administrator duties until an interim is in place.
He said he feels council will work quickly to get an interim administrator in place.
Harrelson said one fortunate thing is that Kempski had already done all the work to get the 2019-20 budget complete before he took vacation and then resigned. First reading approval of the budget took place during Monday’s meeting.