The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors accepted the resignation of District Administrator Tanya Quickel on Tuesday, asking her to leave immediately instead of giving her the option of remaining for a 60-day transition period until a new manager could be found.
After months of contention, with two board members seeking to change to a less powerful manager position, Quickel submitted her resignation June 10.
Human resources attorney Lara Donlon said the end date from Quickel’s resignation letter would be Aug. 9, adding that the board had the option of keeping Quickel as administrator until then or have her leave sooner.
The board unanimously agreed to have her leave immediately.
Next, the board had to decide how the office will operate in the absence of an administrator.
Donlon pointed out that the district administrator is authorized to make expenditures up to $10,000, but if the staff must wait for a board meeting to get approval for small expenditures, it could make operations difficult. “We need to have someone on an interim basis who can have that authority,” she said.
ITID Vice President Carol Jacobs said she wanted to give longtime finance department employee Jim Shallman that authority in the absence of an administrator.
“He’s always here, and he’s very professional,” Jacobs said. “I think we should put out an advertisement for a district manager, but in the meantime, this ship can take care of itself.”
Jacobs noted that board members are able to sign checks and attorneys can write letters that need to be written. “Even if we did nothing, it’s basically what we’re doing right now,” she said. “I think we’re going to be fine. Nobody needs to get all freaked out about this.”
Supervisor Michelle Damone said she has nothing against Shallman having temporary authority to sign checks but that she would not be signing checks until a permanent district administrator is in place.
“You will find out shortly that when you have no one directing the ship, how things fall apart,” Damone said.
Supervisor Ralph Bair said he wanted Director of Operations & Services Kim Hutchison to remain as office manager. “She has done it before; she knows how to do it and make sure that things get done,” Bair said.
Jacobs did not like that idea. “I’m understanding right now that she’s doing HR work, which board policy says has to have a college degree,” Jacobs said. “She also employed her niece who lives with her to drive around with fellow maintenance workers doing absolutely nothing.”
Hutchison replied that she had been helping out with human resources duties but was not serving as HR director.
“I was helping through the interviewing process,” she said. “The department heads made the decisions on who to hire. An Acreage resident, who, yes, is my niece, applied, she went through the interview process, she went through all the background checks, and she was hired at the minimum starting salary that the district has.”
Jacobs asked what she does, and Hutchison said she is a laborer with one of the zone crews, which was confirmed by Director of Maintenance & Operations Mike Guinaugh.
Hutchison said she wanted the board to know she was not acting inappropriately. “I never have acted inappropriately,” she said. “I offered to help in a position where it needed help.”
Hutchison later informed the board that she had tendered her resignation effective July 1, as had Stormwater Manager Henry Shaw.
Supervisor Gary Dunkley made a motion to review all actions made by administration in terms of employment, hiring, firing, expense and contracts for the past six months.
“I think it would behoove us as a board to look at all actions, especially when it comes to employees and employment,” Dunkley said.
Jacobs seconded the motion, which carried 3-2, with Damone and Bair opposed.
Damone said she did not want to be involved with investigations into hiring and firing and asked legal staff to brief her on the ramifications of the action. “When they come back to sue the district, I don’t want to be the one who’s sued,” she said.
Jacobs asked Dunkley to revise the motion to say that the reports would be through the HR attorney, who would report to the board, and he agreed. That motion carried 5-0.
Donlon asked again that the board try to focus on the business at hand, and the only item on the agenda, which was to discuss matters relating to Quickel’s resignation, including who should act as an interim manager and how to find a permanent administrator.
Jacobs asked whether the board could advertise for a special meeting before the July 10 regular meeting. “We have three graders down right now, and there’s some stuff going on in that yard that I do not like,” she said.
Jacobs said the budget needs to be discussed again and that she had a list of other issues she wanted to address, including a fuel monitor that was to be installed in January that is not working and that the depot recently ran out of fuel.
“It’s almost like we’re a joke up here, and they do in the field whatever they want,” Jacobs said.
Guinaugh asked for permission to speak.
“First of all, I wanted you all to know I turned in my resignation this morning, so July 8 is my last day,” he said. “Second, the fuel system that you all voted for is working operationally, but it doesn’t function properly. That’s the system that you voted for. I put it in; that’s what you got.”
Jacobs asked Guinaugh why he was resigning, and he said, “Because Tanya left.”
“That’s a really smart thing to do before you’re fired,” Jacobs replied.
Damone asked Jacobs why she would suggest that Guinaugh be fired, and Jacobs said she had a list of mistakes.
“Who’s judging his mistakes?” Damone said.
“I’m judging them,” Jacobs answered.
Jacobs made a motion to make staff member Juan Massarda interim director of operations and maintenance, which it carried 5-0.
Donlon again reminded board members that they need to name someone interim manager and decide how to conduct the search for a new manager or administrator.
ITID President Jennifer Hager said Shallman had agreed to step in for 60 days or however long it takes to find a permanent replacement.
“The word is on the street that there will be a position,” Hager said. “I think that we can do it without hiring a firm.”
Jacobs made a motion to put Shallman in charge until a replacement could be found, which carried 5-0.
Damone made a motion to advertise for a new district manager, which carried 5-0.
ABOVE: The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors.