Thursday, May 16, 2013

Trustee's chief of staff steps down

William "Bill" Curtis
William “Bill” Curtis' last day as chief of staff in the Knox County Trustee's Office was Wednesday. 

He is the third top ranking member of Trustee John Duncan III's team to leave in the past six months, although his exit is less controversial that the others.

“I'm almost 71 years old – that's the main reason,” he said laughing slightly Thursday. “I worked for 50 years. That's long enough.”

Curtis spent 40 years at Curtis Mortgage where he was president and CEO, and then sold it to BB&T Bank. He signed a no-compete contract, so he was essentially retired for a few years before joining Duncan's team when he took office in September of 2010. He was hired on as a stat programs administrator and later promoted to collections administrator.

When Duncan's then-chief of staff, Joshua Burnett, pleaded guilty to facilitation of official misconduct, the trustee appointed him to take over the position. 

Curtis, who earned $77,250, was generally well-respected in the office, although he was lumped in with a group of six others brought into the administration and who had close ties or made political donations to Duncan or his family. (He donated $1,000 to Duncan's campaign.)

However, Curtis was not connected to any of the employees who received education bonuses for classes that they never took, a scandal that has tarnished Duncan's time as trustee and led to the resignation of Burnett and office attorney Chad Tindell, who also pleaded guilty to the facilitation charge.

Curtis said he enjoyed his time working in the Trustee's Office, adding “we got some things accomplished.”

But, he said he also has five grandchildren he wants to “spend more time with and that's what I'll be doing.”

“I've been working all my life and there comes a time when you have to make a decision and make a change,” he said. “I enjoyed working up there but I have to make some time for myself.”

And in the meantime?

“Well, just today I've been mowing the law,” he said chuckling.

Duncan said Thursday that Kristin Phillips will take over the chief of staff gig on an interim basis. 

“She has worked in the office for twenty years and has proven to be hard working, extremely knowledgeable and capable of handling the additional responsibilities,” he said.

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