September 18, 2014

Au Gres City Council votes to put Killingbeck on 90-day probation

Terms of probationary period to be drafted by city attorney

Posted

Au GRES — In front of a packed room April 1, the Au Gres City Council voted to place City Manager Pat Killingbeck on probation for 90 days, in which time council members said the working relationship between Killingbeck and council must improve.

The motion to implement the probationary period passed 4-1, with Mayor Tom Ennes dissenting. A motion to remove Killingbeck from the city manager position was brought to the table in March, but did not receive majority support from council. Because two members abstained improperly last month, the issue was raised again Tuesday, and pulled off the table by Councilmember Dan Pockrandt, who made the motion for removal in March.

After the motion to place Killingbeck on probation for 90 days was approved, council members approved a second motion to have City Attorney Pat Winter draft an agreement with the terms of the probation to be signed by council. The agreement would specify how the council members would like to see their working relationship with Killingbeck change.

Prior to the motion being made, many community members spoke out in support of and in opposition to Killingbeck. Much of the discussion revolved around the Au Gres City Park.

David Pockrandt, an Au Gres resident in attendance, said people have stayed at the campground without paying because they could not find the park supervisor, who works 35 hours a week, or another person to pay.

Community member Bob Proulx said the park loses about $60,000 annually, and he does not understand how a city the size of Au Gres can justify the way it currently operates, taking a significant loss on a regular basis.

“It’s the policies that are instituted by the manager that are followed by the people she hires to run the park,” he said.

Debra Dittenber, who said she does not live in Au Gres but stays at the campground regularly, told council members she has always found a way to pay for her stay, either in person or via a drop box at the park. She said she sees Killingbeck visiting with park patrons regularly.

“Am I going to see the council members every morning when I’m in the campground, walking by, addressing people?” she said. “Because that’s what your city manager does.”

Many Killingbeck supporters said the city manager’s success in being approved for grants should not be overlooked by city council members. Deb Morgan and former Au Gres Mayor Lavern Dittenber were among the community members to point at Killingbeck’s success in receiving grants. Four letters from developers currently working to bring businesses to Au Gres were also read aloud during the meeting, all supporting Killingbeck.

“She has been personable, professional and an expert in her field,” said a letter from Daniel Lee, M.D., of DLR Development.

Letters from representatives of Kampber Management, the group bringing the McLaren developments to Au Gres, also supported Killingbeck.

The letters all praised the working relationship with Killingbeck, but some community members in attendance told a different story.

Dorothy Lloyd said she worked for the city when Killingbeck was first hired, and helped train her 29 years ago.

“I like Pat as a person, but she can be very hurtful, sarcastic, and she can — for one thing — she covers her butt. I know that,” she said. “As far as grants, you need lawyers, you need engineers. She can’t do it alone. I had experiences that I heard mentioned by the council people and I’m here just to let you know I also ran into some problems with Pat, and that was the reason I quit.”

“She’s not the only one that had to quit because of Pat,” David Pockrandt said.

Council members shared their feelings on the issue prior to the probation motion being made. Councilmember Dan Pockrandt said he does not take away from the things Killingbeck did for the city in the past, but said he felt she made excuses rather than deal with issues facing the city, specifically in regards to the park.

“It was a simple issue to address — the park itself,” he said. “There were excuses for the park not being maintained properly.”

“There issues were that there is never anybody there that they can take any complaints to or anything, and the cleanliness of the bathrooms,” Dan Pockrandt continued.

According to Councilman Pockrandt, community members claiming this was the first time a council had an issue with Killingbeck were not telling the whole story.

“It’s been brought up that this is the first council that Pat has not gotten along with,” he said. “Well, this is the first council that hasn’t rubberstamped everything Pat’s said.”

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