Written by Ed Smith
Supporters of former Buena Vista Police Chief Darrell Slagle packed Thursday's City Council meeting to vent their anger and express puzzlement over Slagle's recent abrupt retirement.
“We have a right to know why [the police chief suddenly left the department last month],” said Nannie Johnson. “My understanding is that Darrell would like to come back. “He's a good man. Whoever is responsible for this should lay off and let him do his job.”
“My wish,” said Mar Vita Flint, “and from the turnout tonight, I think you should direct the city manager to rescind the retirement of Darrell Slagle.”
After numerous others voiced similar sentiments, Slagle himself made an appearance, to thunderous applause from the audience. He thanked everyone for their support, but said he felt it would “not be in my best interest” to withdraw his retirement announcement.
Asked if he would be willing to return to his job, Slagle said, “There would have to be stipulations.”
Asked if he was forced from his job, he answered, “I was not fired. I retired because I felt like I had no alternative.” He said he'd been in communication with City Manager Jay Scudder in recent weeks, but that the city manager indicated he wants to “move forward with someone from the outside.”
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Slagle's retirement wasn't the only item of interest at Thursday's City Council meeting. Scudder unveiled a proposed budget for next year that would raise the real estate tax rate by 7 cents to $1.14 per $100 assessed value. A rate at this level would equal the highest rate in the city's history.
The tax hike would help pay for implementation of a paid rescue squad service, an upgrade to the 911 radio system and a $100,000 increase in funding for the schools.
City Council accepted the resignation of Council member Lewis Plogger and made plans to fill the seat on a temporary basis, until a special election can be held on Nov. 4. Interested candidates for the interim appointment must write a letter of interest and fill out an application form that can be found on the city's Web site. Candidates will be interviewed by Council at the May 1 meeting, and the appointment will be made at the May 15 meeting.
For more details on Thursday's City Council meeting, see the April 23 print edition of The News-Gazette.