Westminster City Manager Mitch Waller will officially retire Aug. 15, ending an almost 30-year career with the city of Westminster, almost exclusively as a police officer.
The Westminster City Council Wednesday (Aug. 8) approved Waller’s retirement agreement with the city as part of its consent calendar and did not address the issue.
Per the agreement, Waller will receive six-months’ severance pay and remains eligible for full retirement benefits and lifetime medical coverage. The agreement also bars Waller, the city council or city staff from commenting on the matter.
The council placed Waller on paid administrative leave July 16 and gave him the choice of either termination or retirement. Assistant City Manager Eddie Manfro was named interim city manager.
A specific reason for Waller’s removal was never given by Mayor Margie Rice or council members. City Attorney Richard Jones called it simply a “communication issue between the council and the city manager.”
Earlier reports indicated that Rice did not like Waller’s managerial style. Rice often complained that she and the council were kept out of the loop until the last minute in regards to budget and staffing issues.
Without a public explanation, public conjecture abounds. Westminster resident Dale Bradbury accused the council of removing Waller to keep him from picking the next chief of police. Chief Ron Coopman retired July 31.
An ordinance giving the council power to hire or promote a new police chief was placed on the June 27th city council meeting agenda but was pulled at the start of the meeting.
The city manager currently has the authority to pick the new chief. Manfro promoted long-time WPD officer Kevin Baker from captain to chief in one of his first acts as interim city manager.
Baker followed the same path as Coopman, Waller and former chief Andrew Hall. So it is unlikely Waller would have hired anyone outside the department. Baker was the department’s only captain.