Friday, February 21st, 2014
City's legal expenses soar over Slusser firing
Former police chief continues bid to get job back
By William Kincaid
CELINA - The city in 2013 spent $49,884 in legal fees associated with the investigation and termination of former police chief Dave Slusser.
The funds paid to Clemans-Nelson & Associates - the city's legal representatives - include preparation for Slusser's ongoing appeal. Bills for January and February have not yet been submitted.
All personnel consultation services cost $52,777 last year; expenses this year were not available.
The city spent $31,493 on personnel consultants in 2011 and $38,789 in 2012, according to city auditor Betty Strawn. The fees are paid from the general, electric, water and wastewater funds.
Slusser is fighting for reinstatement of his job after being fired June 14 for alleged misconduct in office. He was initially placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 14, 2013. He is seeking reinstatement, full backpay and city contributions to his employee retirement plan.
The appeals process continued last week with a two-day hearing led by Scott Claussen, an attorney appointed by the local civil service commission. Both sides have until April 16 to submit briefs of their closing arguments to Claussen. The two sides have until April 28 to respond to each other's briefs.
Claussen will rule on the case at an unspecified later date. His fees have not yet been submitted but also will be paid by the city, according to Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel.
According to the invoices submitted by Clemans-Nelson in February 2013, consultants had reviewed the pending investigation of Slusser, conducted interviews with employees, prepared documents and performed other services. Charges totaled $3,410 for the month.
Throughout 2013, the company continued providing services at a cost of $125 to $140 per hour related to the Slusser investigation. Some of the most expensive charges were $9,685.26 in March, $9,672 in June, $4,603 in July and $8,879.48 in August.
Although the appeal ruling is pending, the civil service commission moved ahead this week by administering a written test Wednesday to determine the next police chief. At the request of city administrators, an oral assessment will be given March 6. The candidate receiving the highest aggregate score on the tests will be awarded the job.
The exams are being administered by Daniel T. Clancy and Associates, Toledo.
Interim police chief Calvin Freeman and sergeants James Stelzer, Thomas Wale and Kent Taylor were eligible to take the test. Only Wale and Taylor took the written portion.