Six of Heppner’s seven city councilors voted on Friday, Jan. 11 to fire the city manager, citing issues with budget management.
Edie Ball’s firing was effective immediately, and the mayor has appointed Kim Cutsforth, Ball’s predecessor, as the interim city manager while the council conducts a nationwide search for a new manager.
The city’s contract with Ball states that they were required to give her 30 days’ notice, but since they let her go immediately, they paid her for 30 days’ worth of service upon termination.
The Hermiston Herald attempted to contact Ball, but was not able to reach her for comment.
Council president Corey Sweeney said they hope the new manager will be more of a project manager.
“We have a $3 million street project coming up in 2020, and are looking at a $5 million to $8 million project in sewer updates,” he said.
He said the council had a list of concerns with Ball, including that budget issues were slow to be addressed, if at all.
“Our budget was basically in disarray, and it comes on the heels of two treasurers leaving in her tenure, and another that just put in her two weeks’ notice this week,” Sweeney said.
He noted that the treasurers did not leave because of Ball, but the high turnover rate contributed to the lack of consistency with handling the budget.
He also said there were no improprieties or money missing from the budget.
“It was more of a mismanagement of the budget,” he said.
He added that the council was not happy to let Ball go.
“I would add that she was likable, and we did not enjoy the decision,” he said.
Ball had been hired to the city manager position in 2017, and had previously been the city manager of Ida Grove, Iowa.
Former mayor Cody High was one of the council members who voted on Friday to fire Ball. On Monday, new mayor Jim Kindle was sworn in, and appointed Cutsforth to the interim role.