Both Brigham and citizens to suffer from city actions


September 14, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Imagine Judy Brigham’s surprise when the Iola City Council announced Monday night that it does “not have a revenue problem,” according to councilman Ken Rowe.
Say what?
“We’ve got a very good picture in all the funds, except water,” Roe continued.
In less than a month everything is clear as a bell. Just hunky-dory.
So why was Brigham recently fired as city administrator? Something about the budget, right? The words “sloppiness at best,” and “not trusting the numbers” ring a bell.

BECAUSE THE COUNCIL has never publicly given a reason for firing Brigham less than three weeks shy of her retirement, we’re left to our own assumptions.
Here’s a few:
 l Councilmen misconstrued the purpose of a budget worksheet — which is a wishlist, a guide, not a balance sheet. The city had budgeted $1 million to be set aside each year in its electric fund to build up a reserve for new generation needs. It’ll take about $10 million to replace  the current generators. To date the fund has about $3.3 million for such purposes. During the brouhaha over the budget worksheets, councilmen said they were “misled,” by the $1 million entry, despite Brigham’s explanation of the purpose of the entry and the inherent prudence of building up for a known  expense.
Councilmen complained a number of other items in the budget were “messy.” Businessman Kendall Callahan, especially, took it upon himself to find discrepancies, though in the end it all balanced out.
 l Brigham was a target. For whatever reason, it’s been a well-known secret that Brigham was not the darling of city leaders. At the first of the year commissioners Bill Shirley, now mayor, and Craig Abbott voted to terminate her position when the commission was to disband April 1 in favor of a city council. After the League of Kansas Municipalities confirmed that Brigham could remain as city administrator despite the change of leadership, Shirley switched his vote in line with Mayor Bill Maness.
Dismissing Brigham was as much a sham then as it is today.
l Sorry, but the mind draws a blank as to any other possible reasons as to why Brigham was fired. She’s not stolen any funds, misrepresented the city in any capacity, or been uncooperative.
City council members had their chance Monday to reinstate Brigham to fulfill the remainder of her contract. That four days would have cost the city about $1,325.
At the going rate, that’s about 10 hours of attorney fees.
Let’s remember that sum if a lawsuit comes next.


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