With the resignation of Deputy Clerk Lauren Olsen on March 18, the City of Lake Helen has lost yet another member of its staff. Lake Helen currently has no city clerk or deputy clerk, and was already understaffed, according to the city administrator.
There has been no city clerk since September 2018, when then-City Clerk Becky Witte took over as city administrator. Witte resigned from that job Nov. 4, 2020.
Olsen had been hired by the City Commission in September 2018, to take over some of the duties of the recently vacated clerk job.
Witte was replaced as administrator by Lee Evett. He was first hired as interim administrator, and the job was made permanent in February.
In January, then serving as the interim administrator, Evett painted an alarming picture of the city’s staffing when he requested permission to hire two temporary part-time administrative assistants.
Witte had carried a large amount of the workload, Evett told the City Commission, and her departure put the work onto the rest of the staff, particularly Deputy Clerk Olsen.
“It was very obvious to me that when Becky left, she took institutional knowledge, which is to be expected, but she also did a tremendous amount of real work … and most of that work that she did fell on Lauren's shoulders,” Evett said.
On top of that, he said, the city staff was already undersized.
“I have never been in a city that has operated so frugally with its personnel,” Evett said.
Evett used the example of Frostproof, where he worked as city manager. Frostproof has a population comparable to Lake Helen’s, he said, and had seven staff members in City Hall.
“You're operating now at three-and-a-half, and one of those is me. So you're really operating with two-and-a-half workers. And it's very, very difficult,” Evett told commissioners. “I'm not trying to make it dramatic. But this community really needs help internally.”
He told commissioners at that time, “Pretty soon Lauren's head's gonna explode, literally.”
The city approved the two part-time assistants, and as of March, made one of those two temporary positions permanent.
Now, the relationship between Evett and Olsen appears to have deteriorated.
“I do not see the working relationship between myself and City Administrator Lee Evett as reparable at this time,” Olsen wrote in her resignation letter, citing Evett’s “endless negativity.”
Evett declined to comment on Olsen's resignation.
"The city’s professional staff does not comment on personnel matters," Evett told The Beacon.
With the immediate resignation of Olsen, the city staff is reduced to one administrative assistant and two part-time workers, plus Evett.