Burlington’s leaders were recently reminded of the problem with people who make themselves indispensible when they bid adieu to one city staff member who has become especially crucial to the municipality’s operations over the past decade.
It was ultimately a bittersweet moment on Tuesday when the city’s top brass paid tribute to Rachel Kelly, Burlington’s outgoing city manager for administrative services, as she prepares to leave the city’s employ to take on a new post at UNC-Greensboro.
A 10-year veteran of Burlington’s municipal staff, Kelly began her career with the city as its public information officer under the tutelage of former city manager and current city council member Harold Owen. In the coming years, Kelly rose through the ranks until she attained her current position in 2018 under Owen’s successor Hardin Watkins.
During a city council meeting on Tuesday, Watkins acknowledged that, as Burlington’s assistant city manager for administrative services, Kelly has been directly responsible for everything from recreation and animal services to information technology.
“In her career with us, Rachel has had an opportunity to touch almost every area of city operations,” Watkins recalled. “Everybody knows that Rachel works amazingly hard each and every day…She’s willing to tackle most anything presented to her, and she has been sort of a utility player as well as catching anything related to her departments.
“Rachel’s last day is June 11,” the city manager went on to note, “and we’re not sure how we’re going to handle June 12 here at city hall.”