Trinity resident says city manager has "torn the public's trust"

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

TRINITY, TX (KTRE) – Trinity City Council member Billy Slaughter says City Manager Phil Patchett asked for three weeks of vacation pay early. To him, that was a red flag.

"I started suspecting it two or three months ago," said Slaughter. "He got to wanting his vacation early and we knew something was up."

According to Trinity's Mayor, Lyle Stubbs, Patchett attempted suicide Tuesday morning and in a note he admitted to stealing money from the city. It's shocked the small town of Trinity.

"He's torn the public's trust," said Neal Smith, Trinity City Council member.

"You think everything's running real smooth and then all at once, it's like a bomb that's dropped on you, you know? Kind of tore the whole town apart," said Slaughter.

"I think it's a cry for help," said Smith.

Residents are quick to note Patchett has helped many in Trinity. KTRE's cameras have even captured moments of him lending a hand to residents.

"He's worked his whole life in water and sewer and it's just unbelievable that this could happen," said Smith.

Trinity Fire Chief Hayne Huffman has known Patchett for 30 years. "Real surprised by it and I feel sorry for him," he said.

He said he can forgive his friend. "It happens," said Huffman. "When something like this takes place, your first reaction, 'is man I tell you what, I can't believe this happened.' We all hate it."

The council has ordered an audit on the city's expenses to find out the extent of the damage.

"The part of me that knows Phil Patchett, I wouldn't thought that this would happen, but we're going to have to wait and see what the audit says," said Steve Jones, Trinity Police chief.

The council will meet Monday at 4 p.m. in a closed, executive session to discuss the audit and Patchett's future as city manager.

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