The 6 minute, 20 second special session followed a lengthy closed session that began at 6 p.m. Tuesday, was temporarily adjourned at 7:13 p.m. so the council could begin its regular meeting and called back to order at about 11:30 p.m. after the end of the regular meeting.
Ives, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel, council members Nancy Young, Robert Rickman and Charles Manne, and City Attorney Dan Sodergren were alone in the council chambers at City Hall for the early-morning special session.
“The council has met on a performance evaluation of the city manager,” Ives said after calling the meeting to order. “The report of final action is that the council has terminated his contract effective today.”
Ives said the vote to fire Churchill, who began his tenure as city manager May 5, 2008, was unanimous. No council member expanded upon the specific reasons for ending Churchill’s contract. Churchill was the subject of recent reports that he used a city credit card for personal reasons. The council had reprimanded the former city manager Dec. 17 for those policy violations but decided Feb. 18 to review his performance again in light of public reaction.
Young made a motion to adjourn the special session until 7 p.m. Wednesday, which was seconded by Manne.
Wednesday at 7:01 p.m. the mayor called the special session back to order and the council immediately went back into closed session to discuss next steps. When the council returned 54 minutes later, Ives reported the council had taken no formal action beyond asking Assistant City Manager Maria Hurtado to serve as acting interim city manager.
“We are intending on working the specifics of formalizing that relationship in the next two weeks,” Ives said. “We’ve also asked for Maria to request proposals from some search firms to narrow (the search for a new city manager) down and make recommendation on a search firm to help us find our new city manager.”
Ives said in an interview Thursday, Churchill’s contract includes a severance agreement for nine-months of salary and health benefits. The mayor was not certain whether Churchill would exercise his option to have his salary paid in a lump sum or over the course of the next nine months.
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