The Wellington Trustees have voted to remove Town Administrator Ed Cannon.
In an audio recording, obtained from the Town of Wellington, of the virtual meeting via Zoom, the Trustees voted to remove Cannon as a result of a contractual matter without cause.
Brad March, Trustee, said The Town has confirmed a severance package in writing with Mr Cannon. They said they made their move as a result of a performance evaluation.
The Town Trustees have appointed Kely Houghteling, Deputy Administrator, to the position for the time being. The motion to appoint Houghteling was passed 6-0.
In public comment, several Wellington residents expressed concerns about his firing during the current Pandemic. The call was limited to 100 participants. It was at times hard to hear or identify who was speaking.
“I just heard about this about two or three hours ago. So I think it’s kind of odd. I just feel it is strange that you called an emergency meeting for the town, but you are not actually answering any questions,” said Beth.
“They’ve already made up their mind and they’re not telling anybody why – it sounds like,” said Hannah in a text comment on the call. “I’m concerned that the board is willing to fire someone publicly without providing a reason, further doing so within a regular meeting instead of waiting to put on the next agenda.”
“The manner that this dismissal and is proceeding is perplexing to us. We questioned the wisdom of removing a well-respected and qualified town administrator in the middle of the health crisis,” said John Slutzsky President of the Wellington Chamber, representing four board members. “Furthermore it is disturbing that our council could do this in the meeting before an election that could unset two of its trustees and will fill one open seat,” he said.
On Thursday, North Forty News provided updates about what we knew at the time. Please see those updates here:
“No matter what happens here tonight, we are going to act together in conjunction with our unified command structure system and first responders and fire departments and sheriffs, and we will make sure that these operations are going to be running as they’re supposed to be with our without certain personnel,” said the Mayor, Troy Hammon.
The original motion to remove the Administrator was made by John Jerome.
Town Administrator, Ed Cannon was removed in a vote of 4 – 2 (yes indicates to remove):
Here is how the Trustees Voted:
Jerome – Yes
Knutson – Yes
Whitehouse – No
Evans – Yes
Satler – Yes
Hammond – No
Here are some comments from some of the Trustees:
Trustee Sattler: “It seems that the consensus of the public comments says that this has been a behind the closed doors in the dark conspiracy to get rid of Ed because of personal issues. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I like Ed as a person. I just have lost confidence in him as a leader and as a Town Administrator. This is why I’m going to be voting to terminate his contract.”
Trustee Jerome: “This just doesn’t happen overnight. It has been over a year and coming, and I have lost my confidence as well.”
Trustee Whitehouse: “I don’t believe this is the correct course of action at this moment. This is an ill time action, which is led by Trustees John Jerome and Dan Sattler. I believe they feel this is the best course of action. I find the speed suspicious. As Trustees we need to put the needs of our community first. Right now this means protecting the safety and health of all residents. I do not believe that this does this.”
Mayor Hammond: “I personally disagree with the timing and the rollout of this action, I would like to have addressed it 30.days ago and I wouldn’t have a problem addressing it 30 days from now. It doesn’t matter to me which board is here. But we have rules. We have decorum and conduct. And the majority of the board feels this is necessary to take a look at. That’s why we’re here. But my vote is no tonight.”
Toward the end of the call, after the vote, Ed Cannon was asked to provide a statement.
Transcript from Ed Cannon:
“First of all, I want to express my gratitude for the past three years of having the wonderful opportunity working for the town of Wellington. Uh, when I was first hired, uh, we walked into this, had instant changes. And some challenges that we were facing.
Uh, recent, uh, turnover at the mayor position, uh, resignation of a finance director and appending a dismissal of the previous administrator. We also were facing, uh, one of the greatest. Taste and odor issues that counted, seen in decades. Uh, we were, uh, in the throat of the, in agreement with the bogs odor, strong art authority that was unfairly, uh, taxing, uh, the residents of the community due to the mismanage and the management of his fund. Um, I was also approached, uh, by the mayor and the town board during the interview process. And so they were looking for someone to come in. It’d be progressive, someone they would be proactive and not reactive. Some of it would be engaged in the community, someone that would put Wellington in the right path.
I was approached by the business community. It was complaining that the town was not business friendly at all and wrote that roadblocks were being erected irrationally. Uh, which was a compounding, the ability to, uh, promote business and business growth and development of The town.
My first task when I arrived here was to address, the taste and odor issues in the water for decades.
This town had told, it’s its residents that it’s safe to drink. It may smell bad to go away. You’ll be fine. I found that to be unacceptable. We hired the right people, we put the right people in place, and I can proudly say that we have not had a taste and odor issue in this town for the past 2 years.
The box Elder storm water authority was a constant drain on our, our residents and their resources. I negotiated for seven months with the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County and we forged out an inter-governmental agreement that also included the town of Tim. And the box elder believed to town residents and put a cap on the risk that our community would be facing.
This was unanimously approved by all four organizations, and quite frankly, it was hailed as, as a success. Um, we had some struggles, I mean, on, but, uh, we’ve also had some great opportunities. I am very proud of the team that I’ve worked with for this past, uh, three years. For example, Pete Branchard was our finance director when the one that was serving when I arrived, resigned.
He and his assistant, uh, took it, uh, the positive control of our, of our municipal finances, road policies for fund balance and investments upgraded our, our 25 year old purchasing policy and put procedures in place that allowed us to have a better financial standing. We secured a loan for a water treatment facility, uh, and based on the strength of our financial policies and our staff financial position, that loan received a AAA rating.
And the estimated interest rate dropped from two and a half percent to 1.78% saving the town over $6 million in interest over the 20 year span of that loan. His assistant Tyler, who is now the interim find a finance director in the town treasurer. Also evaluated our investments, made a recommendation to the board, and the board approved a change in our investment policy.
Uh, and we immediately saw a $600,000 increase in interest payments in interest earnings alone, or a fund balances. Well, we, but, um, we’ve worked with our business community, um, to strengthen ties, uh, to normalize relationships so that we can get other, and I’m proud of the efforts that we have done to do that.
Our Town board. Two years ago, one of my most proudest moments was the town board held their first strategic planning session to shape a vision and set priorities for the town and those priorities for economic development and growth. And also for infrastructure. We had a long standing contract with a, uh, contract, uh, engineering team that, uh, had been serving the town for, quite frankly, for decades.
Uh, the board approved a measure to in house engineering. We hired our first professional engineer, Bob Gowin, who’s now serving as a public works director who brought in a second engineer and engineer tech and administrative staff. And we have better control and better, uh, planning or our infrastructure because Bob Gowin takes personally the infrastructure for this town.
And we did, so at 600, I’m sorry. We did so at $60,000 less than what we were paying. Our contract engineering services. I’m proud of the innovation that, uh, has been, uh, uh, exercised by the staff. Our wastewater treatment, uh, people, uh, diverted some effluent that comes off of the tailoring of the, the wastewater treatment plant to flows into the box elder.
You’ve heard of that to the front of the, the plant to use to wash down the headworks at this plant. Uh, they saved about a hundred thousand gallons a day of potable water that we can now divert and reuse within the community. That equates to about a one point $5 million savings, uh, on the towns, uh, need to acquire additional water.
Our economic development efforts have been successful. We have proposed 50,000 square foot, um, retail center, uh, had, has been through the flight plan review process and had been approved. It’s going to go South of Ridley’s. And our economic developer has secured his first tenant, uh, Ziggy’s coffee, which we look forward to.
Uh, seeing that development go. We’ve also become, uh, I recognize within the region is a place where, where people want to invest in people who want to, uh, uh, open their businesses. I don’t an extremely proud of the work that we’ve done. I want to say it and equivalently to everyone here that I respect the board’s decision tonight.
The board is following procedures outlined as state statutes. My contract also specifies that they can act for any reason, uh, to remove me or any cause. Uh, I respect that and I would encourage people to respect that as well. I am just really wanted to express my gratitude to Wellington, to the community.
Uh, to the staff and to the, uh, uh, people who decided to stand up and run for office. Uh, thank you for this opportunity to serve this community.