UPDATE: Mitchell senior services director to be fired after serving since 1994Paradis has been the city’s senior services executive director since 1994. She was responsible for running the James Valley Community Center (senior center), Palace Transit, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and the city’s Senior Meals program. The city faces three pending lawsuits from former Palace Transit drivers who allege wrongful termination related to disability discrimination.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
Mitchell Senior Services Executive Director Brenda Paradis will be fired effective July 16, Mayor Ken Tracy confirmed Friday morning.
Tracy said Paradis and City Attorney Randy Stiles were told Thursday morning they will not be re-appointed at the July 16 Mitchell City Council meeting.
Both were given the option to resign or retire rather than have their termination announced at the meeting, Tracy said.
Paradis chose not to resign, Tracy said, and her dismissal will become official at the meeting.
Stiles chose to resign effective immediately, according to a letter Stiles emailed Thursday evening to The Daily Republic.
“I feel comfortable with how we’re proceeding,” Tracy said Friday. “I have no regrets at this point. We’re moving forward.”
The decisions were made following a private discussion with the council after Monday’s meeting, Tracy said. Tracy and five council members were sworn into office earlier that night.
Tracy declined to reveal specific reasons for the dismissals.
“It’s not always easy to make changes, but I think we jointly felt that this was time for a change,” he said.
State law gives the mayor the authority to fire department heads but requires him to report his reasons to the council.
“The mayor shall have power except as otherwise provided to remove from office any officer appointed by him, whenever he shall be of the opinion that the interests of the municipality demand such removal, but he shall report the reasons for his removal to the council at its next regular meeting,” says South Dakota Codified Law 9-14-13.
The Daily Republic attempted Friday to contact Paradis at her city office but was told she was not there.
Paradis has been the city’s senior services executive director since 1994. She was responsible for running the James Valley Community Center (senior center), Palace Transit, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and the city’s Senior Meals program. The city faces three pending lawsuits from former Palace Transit drivers who allege wrongful termination related to disability discrimination. A combined trial is scheduled for October.
Stiles had been city attorney since 2003.
“Both have been very gracious about the outcome of what’s taken place here, and I thank them for that,” Tracy said.
The search for replacements will begin “as soon as possible,” Tracy said. Changing the salaries paid to the positions has not yet been discussed, but Tracy said that remains an option.
Stiles was contracted with the city and paid $48,000 annually. His contract ended June 30.
Paradis was paid an annual salary of $67,800.
The jobs of the city’s seven other department heads are not in jeopardy, Tracy said.
“We’ve completed our evaluations and there are no other changes that will be made at this point.”
Dan Allen, vice president of the City Council, confirmed the council’s discussions with the mayor following the July 2 meeting led to the terminations.
“If we’re going to make a change, let’s make it early with the new mayor and new council, and let’s move forward,” Allen said.
Allen declined to disclose what factors led to the terminations.
“The sun is still going to come up in the east and set in the west, and Mitchell is still going to move forward,” he said.
The Daily Republic made multiple calls Friday to council president Jeff Smith, but they were not returned. Attempts to contact councilmen Marty Barington and Steve Rice were also unsuccessful. Councilmen Phil Carlson, Randy Doescher, Greg McCurry and Mel Olson all declined to comment.
Less than a week into his first term as mayor, Tracy has dismissed two department heads and secured a council vote of support for a $2.5 million project to add a second sheet of ice to the Mitchell Activities Center.
He said Friday he wanted to “hit the ground running” when he took office.
“It will be nice to get down to a normal work schedule and conduct the city’s business, and get some of these things behind us,” he said.