The county will hold a rare single-issue special meeting Monday to consider firing the man in charge of managing its facilities.

In an agenda posted on Thursday, the county announced a special meeting to consider terminating Michael Bell, the county’s director of facilities management.

Bell, whose salary is $91,352, has been the facilities director since 2012, according to the county.

County Judge Mark Henry had the item placed on the agenda, which included no additional information about the proposed firing.

Henry and other county commissioners The Daily News was able to reach on Thursday said they couldn’t comment on the agenda item before the meeting because it’s a personnel issue.

Bell oversees all county facilities on Galveston Island and the mainland. Among those facilities are the Galveston County Justice Center, the county courthouse, the San Luis Toll Bridge, county annex buildings, the medical examiners facility and a fire station on Bolivar Peninsula.

Bell on Thursday declined to comment about the agenda item.

The maintenance department’s mission statement is “to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all employees and visitors to the Galveston County facilities” and “to maximize the efficiency and life span of all equipment and building systems associated with the facilities,” according to the county’s website.

The county’s agenda doesn’t include a call for an executive session, meaning commissioners can’t go behind closed doors to discuss the matters.

But commissioners held an executive session Nov. 5 to discuss the performance of two county employees: the director of the county legal department and the director of facilities.

Executive session agenda items about employee reviews are a constant presence on the commissioners’ agenda. In 10 of the last 15 regular and special meetings, commissioners have had employee reviews as part of the agenda.

Monday’s meeting is the first instance of commissioners moving to fire a person after those reviews.

Henry on Thursday acknowledged the agenda item is unusual and different from the way commissioners had gone about firing county employees in the past.

But lawsuits against the county stemming from past firings prompted commissioners to publicly vote on the matter, Henry said.

“Unfortunately, we can’t have an adverse employee action without a public meeting,” Henry said.

The county still is fighting a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Bonnie Quiroga, former director of the justice administration. The case is still pending before the Texas 14th Court of Appeals.

While Quiroga’s lawsuit centers on whether commissioners had the authority to fire the justice administrator, who works for the district court judges, county officials said there was no question that Bell reports to the commissioners court.

The special meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday at the county’s League City annex, 175 Calder Road.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


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Diana Dow

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