By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
The Westminster City Council Monday relieved City Manager Mitch Waller of his duties, placing the long-time Westminster employee on paid administrative leave and giving him the option to either retire or face termination.
The council did not give a specific reason for the decision.
“It’s a personnel issue between the council and the city manager,” said Assistant City Manager Eddie Manfro, who was named interim city manager by the council.
The council met in a closed special session Monday afternoon with legal counsel to review Waller’s performance. Waller was not present at the meeting.
Mayor Margie Rice, Mayor Pro Tem Tri Ta and Councilmember Tyler Diep voted to place Waller on leave. Andy Quach voted no with Frank Fry abstaining.
Waller became interim city manager in January 2011 and was given the job permanently three months later. He was a Westminster police officer for 28 years, including one year as chief of police.
Waller was project manager during the construction of the new police station, which came in $10 million under budget, but the dissolution of the Westminster Redevelopment Agency and stagnant tax revenues left the city with a $10.4 million deficit. Just last week the city paid the state almost $9 million in redevelopment funds.
Waller and his staff developed a fiscal stabilization plan that cut $6.7 million from the deficit but included laying off 67 employees and cutting back on city services.
The council’s decision also comes on the heels of Police Chief Ron Coopman’s announcement that he will retire July 31. Coopman, a 25-year veteran of the WPD, was promoted to chief when Waller became city manager.