July 3, 2013 11:13:19 AM
Carl Smith - email@example.com
The Starkville Board of Aldermen Tuesday voted 5-2 Tuesday to fire Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill without holding any public discussion on her job performance.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said he will veto the board's resolution as soon as possible, but aldermen can override his action with the same 5-2 vote which yielded Spruill's termination. Wiseman has 10 business days to deliver his response to City Clerk Taylor Adams.
The mayor said Spruill will retain her job until the matter is settled. Once presented with a veto, aldermen could request a special meeting to resolve the matter or defer action until the next board meeting on July 16.
Although 14 city department heads and key staff positions were up for reappointment Tuesday, Spruill was the only employee not retained.
Spruill served as CAO during Wiseman's first term and former Mayor Dan Camp's administration. Spruill, a former U.S. Navy pilot, previously served as mayor of Addison, Texas, a community which named a park in her honor for her service.
If the will of the board is carried through, her job functions are expected to be delegated within the city's leadership structure.
It is unsure if the board will keep the chief administrative officer's position or eliminate the position. Officials expressed concern in attracting candidates with Spruill's qualifications due to the position's pay. Spruill's salary was previously set at about $64,000. The position was one of numerous city jobs previous aldermen said were underpaid in comparison to other municipalities.
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver reduced a motion to writing, calling for Spruill "to be removed from her position effective immediately ... clean out her office and exit the premises" by 5 p.m. (Tuesday)."
His motion was seconded by Ward 3 Alderman David Little and then supported with "Yea" votes by Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn.
Carver provided no comment about why he introduced the motion, but he did say his past four years as alderman gave him enough time to review Spruill's position.
Prior to Carver's motion, Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard moved to have the city reappoint all its department heads since Tuesday marked the board's second day in office. Quoting state statute, Maynard said department heads serve at the will and pleasure of the board. Job performances, he said, could be evaluated and determined as new aldermen settle into their positions.
"The requirement of state statute that we have to appoint people without ever having worked with them is a bit challenging," Maynard said when delivering his motion.
Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker supported Maynard's motion, but the motion was defeated by the same aldermen who would immediately oust Spruill.
"Having met the department heads and only speaking with them about a half hour or so, it's easy to go on what hearsay is or what people have said, but statute says this board has the right to hire and fire. Before I can have someone's career or anyone's livelihood questioned, I need a little more firsthand information," Walker said prior to the vote on Carver's motion. "Evaluation time, I think, is the fair and reasonable thing to do, and I would hope others would agree."
Thirteen other department heads were reappointed to their respective positions, but Vaughn requested a 90-day review period for Personnel Director Randy Boyd's performance.
Other reappointed city employees include Adams, Starkville Police Chief David Lindley, Municipal Judge Rodney Faver, newly appointed prosecutor Caroline Moore, Starkville Fire Chief Rodger Mann, Information Technology Department head Joel Clements, sanitation director Emma Gibson-Gandy, public services director Doug Devlin, community development director William Snowden, court administrator Tony Rook, Starkville Electric Department General Manager Terry Kemp and City Attorney Chris Latimer.
Aldermen also selected Perkins as the board's mayor pro tempore for the term. Perkins, who is the most senior alderman, can now serve in place of Wiseman in cases of temporary absence or disability.
The entire board will also serve on the city's audit and budget committee. In a unanimous vote, aldermen selected Maynard to chair the group.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch