by Valerie Verkamp
The employment of the city administrator of Parkville has been terminated.
The firing of Shannon Thompson as Parkville’s administrator was first reported by The Landmark Friday afternoon at Twitter.com/ivanfoley.
During an executive session held last Tuesday evening at 5 p.m., the board of aldermen voted 6-2 to remove Thompson from her $83,000 a year position.
Thompson took part in the open session of the aldermen meeting that night. She was not informed of the board’s decision to ask for her resignation until after the meeting ended, which was about 8:30 that evening.
Mayor Jim Brooks said he believes Thompson was caught off guard.
“I think she was surprised,” by the board's decision, he said when asked by The Landmark for Thompson’s reaction.
Records show that Alderman Chris Fisher moved that Thompson either voluntarily resign from her position by 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19 or Mayor Jim Brooks, acting on behalf of the city, shall present the city administrator with a letter of termination to end her employment with the city. His motion was seconded by Alderman Marc Sportsman.
Brooks told The Landmark that Thompson did not present a resignation and therefore was terminated as of 4 p.m Friday.
The city had offered a severance pay package of up to six months salary if Thompson had delivered a release of claims satisfactory to the city by 4 p.m. Friday. She did not do that, so the city’s offer of a severance package was withdrawn.
“That’s where we stand as of today,” Brooks said Monday morning.
Thompson worked as an at-will employee with no contract.
Brooks and other city officials were tight-lipped about what led to the aldermen asking for Thompson’s dismissal.
Thompson took over her position in 2008; however, her tenure has not been without some controversy.
Last year, Thompson got herself in hot water in a matter related to reimbursements for expenditures she had incurred. She served a three day suspension as it was being reported by KSHB TV-41 and The Landmark that records indicated some amounts reimbursed to Thompson seemed to indicate double billing or showing only total amounts without itemized purchases for intended business purposes.
Last year it was also reported that Gerry Richardson, mayor at the time, said there were questions as to whether non-business meals, unauthorized travel, and/or alcohol purchases had been sent through by the city administrator for reimbursements. He attributed many of the expenses as a “misunderstanding” between Thompson and what city officials expected.
Asked by The Landmark about Thompson’s past troubles with expenditures and whether that eventually led to her dismissal, Brooks said:
“I don’t think this (the firing) is a direct correlation to what happened in the past.”
Other city officials were mum for the reasoning behind the move. Several attempts to reach Thompson were unsuccessful.
“Given that it is a personnel matter, all I can say is that she is no longer employed by the city,” said Alderman Nan McManus, who was one of six to cast a vote to remove the city administrator.
Aldermen Kendall Welch and Kari Lamer cast the dissenting votes. Both were reached by The Landmark for a comment, but both requested that all questions be directed back to the mayor's office.
Brooks said he is supportive of the board's action.
“Obviously, when it's a 6-2 vote, I need to be in support of it and I am,” he said.
Sean Ackerson, assistant city administrator, will serve as the interim city administrator and assume the city administrators duties. Ackerson, who has previously served as the interim city administrator of Parkville, says he is once again prepared to take on this role.
“We are operating as usual, said Ackerson. “We've got a good group of staff at city hall and we're all working together to make sure the city is run efficiently under this interim period.”
Mayor Brooks says he is uncertain at this time whether or not Ackerson will be a potential candidate for the permanent placement of city administrator. City officials predict the search will begin within a week to 10 days. Brooks says the board will also discuss consider whether or not to consult an outside firm to assist in locating potential applicants.