December 17, 2014

Motion to remove Killingbeck as city manager fails to receive majority vote

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Au GRES — A motion made by Au Gres City Council member Dan Pockrandt to remove Pat Killingbeck from her position as city manager March 4 failed to gain a majority of council votes, as two members did not cast votes and Mayor Tom Ennes voted against the motion.

Pockrandt and Councilman Larry Malace, who seconded the motion to remove the city manager, voted yes to remove Killingbeck, who has held the position for nearly 30 years.

Mayor Pro tem Keith Edmonds and Councilman Cliff Warr refused to vote either way.

Pockrandt said he felt Killingbeck had “stonewalled” city council members when they asked for information in the past.

After the motion was seconded and the issue was opened up for discussion, Malace said most of his concerns with Killingbeck’s performance revolved around a lack of action taken in improving operations at the Au Gres City Park.

“The majority of a lot of problems is right down at that park,” he said. “I’ve had I don’t know how many people, before I ran for office, complaining about the park. And they’re not all liars and BSers, and they’re concerned with what’s going on there.”

“The park is losing money every year and there’s no reason it should be losing money,’ Malace said.

Edmonds said the complaints about the park were not just local.

“I’ve got people that work with me in Saginaw that have said they’ve stayed there, and they didn’t pay anybody because they couldn’t find anybody,” he said.

“Nobody’s ever there to meet the needs of the campers,” Edmonds said.

Killingbeck said there is one city employee who works 35 hours per week to manage the park, and that the city has started to implement park operation changes suggested by council members in the past.

“Council made some recommendations on some things that they’d like to see done and we are making those changes as recommended,” she said.

According to statements made by Killingbeck while the motion to remove her was discussed, since the city council election last May, the city had become a hostile working environment and council had made decisions outside of meetings. She added that members of city council attempted to take over day-to-day duties that the charter says should be handled by city employees.

“During that time the council has not attempted to discuss any concerns with me, other than making inflammatory comments during council meetings,” she said.

Killingbeck said it seemed as though some council members had axes to grind and were focusing on that rather than creating policies that would help get rid of vacant buildings and promote economic development in Au Gres.

“We need the council to set those policies. I can’t do that. That’s your job,” she said. “And I agree that things are not right, but when is the last time you came into talk to me”

“I gave up on that a long time ago,” Pockrandt responded.

Although Edmonds did not vote to remove Killingbeck from her position, he did say that he felt when he approached Killingbeck for help in the past, he was often belittled.

“I’m to the point that I don’t come, because I don’t want to be belittled,” he said. “I don’t want to hear the sarcasm.”

Edmonds said he had reached a point where he did not know who he could trust on issues facing the city and it was affecting his job performance as a member of council.

“I don’t know what to believe, and I don’t know who to trust anymore,” he said.

Warr said he could not vote to remove Killingbeck because he would be leaving office in a few months, and he did not want to cause a problem for future council members.

“I’m getting ready to leave office and I’m not going to leave it in disarray with this mess,” he said.

“I don’t think cutting throats and everything is the answer,” Warr added.

Killingbeck said with several city council members being relatively new, it is likely there has not been enough effort put forth to get better acquainted with council members.

“I think for one thing, there’s not been enough ‘Getting to know you’ atmosphere,” she said. “We basically have four new council members. By new, I mean someone that doesn’t have any more than three years’ experience is still learning.”

“I’ll be honest,” Killingbeck continued. “We have not done that as much as we should. We have focused on other things, and maybe some things have gotten shoved by the wayside.”

City Clerk and Treasurer LaVonne Pritchard told the Independent although the motion to remove Killingbeck received more yes than no votes, a majority of city council votes were needed for the motion to be approved.

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