RED OAK - The Red Oak City Council voted to terminate the employment of City Manager Ken Pfeifer at a special meeting Tuesday evening.
Pfeifer has served as city manager for Red Oak for the past 12 years.
“I’m disappointed in this item — as a fairly new mayor one of the bright spots is working with Mr. Pfeifer,” said Red Oak Mayor Ron Bryce of the agenda item calling for discussion and evaluation of the employment of the city manager. “I can’t imagine that we would do better than Ken in the future. I commend him for being a man of integrity. He’s been a by-the-book kind of guy.”
“I think the city has outgrown Ken,” said councilman Casey Hargrove. “His leadership has been poor lately. I’ve lost confidence in him as a city manager.”
Councilman Eric Smith said that after his election and re-election into the council, he spoke with the citizens of Red Oak and felt that they were calling for a change.
“I spoke with the citizens. I think it’s time for a change. We need new blood,” Smith said. “It has nothing to do with him being unethical. It has nothing to do with Ken — I consider him a good city manager and a friend.”
Councilman Scott Lindsey reminded the council and the standing room only crowd of Pfeifer’s accomplishments during his tenure at Red Oak.
“I’ve lost a lot of sleep since this item came in,” Lindsey said, adding that he hoped other members of the council had thought long and hard about the item as well. “We’ve dropped our tax rate over the last 12 years. We’ve got Dallas Water coming in. I believe in what he’s done.”
Lindsey also questioned the timing of the termination, with the council and city departments planning the fiscal year 2007-2008 budget.
“I’m concerned about terminating our city manager during a crucial time in planning our budget. It’s going to take time to get a new city manager. I don’t know how to do a budget,” Lindsey said. “Y’all have been embarrassing me a lot during the last week. We need to give him the opportunity to keep doing what he’s doing.
“This is politics and it’s wrong and it needs to stop,” Lindsey said.
Hargrove moved for the termination of the city manager effective July 1 and charged the human resources director to begin the search, narrow candidates down to five and have a five-person committee appointed by the council review the candidates. Goodwyn seconded the motion. The motion passed 3-2, with Lindsey and Andy Bell dissenting.
“It has been a privilege to serve Red Oak and its citizens for the past 12-plus years. Great leadership has been provided by Mayor Ron Bryce and former mayors Little, Brown and Foster,” Pfeifer said in a letter to the Daily Light. “I wish to thank those councilmembers who have supported by efforts to improve our city and our excellent city employees for their hard work and support over the years. Many good things have been accomplished during my tenure as city manager.”
The council also voted to terminate the city attorney, Betsy Elam with Taylor, Olson, Adkins, Sralla & Elam, L.L.P., and directed the human resources director to begin the search for a new attorney.
“We had some legal advice that was out of tune with the intent of the law,” Hargrove said of the agenda item calling for discussion and evaluation of the employment of the city attorney.
“Information can be given by an attorney but it is the responsibility of the council to make the decision,” Lindsey said. “I just find it hard to constantly throw responsibility on everyone else. If we’re elected representatives, we need to stop throwing responsibility on everyone else. Getting rid of an attorney firm that is widely recognized as one of the top firms in the Metroplex … we have lawsuits taking place right now and we have no one in place.”
Smith, Hargrove and Goodwyn voted for the motion to terminate the city attorney, with Lindsey and Bell dissenting.
At the adjournment of the meeting, Pfeifer received a standing ovation from about half of the audience members as he walked out of the council chambers arm-in-arm with his wife.
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