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Cornelius city council schedules emergency meeting to pay ousted city manager

Council will transfer $110,000 from general fund to pay the manager they fired

Cornelius City Council will meet Thursday night in an emergency session to enable the city to pay the city manager they fired Monday his severance pay.

The city council owes Dave Waffle, who was fired in a divisive 3-2 vote earlier this week, $110,000, but doesn't have enough cash on hand in the fund designated to pay for city management services.

So the city will meet at 8:30 tonight in the city council chambers to transfer the money from its general fund in order to cut Waffle a check Friday.

The transfer may imperil a plan, engineered by Waffle at the direction of the city's budget committee, to hire a police officer in the next fiscal year.

That's because Waffle's proposed budget, which will go before the city council Monday for a vote, would have used money left over from the 2010-2011 police budget and savings from reducing court hours to hire the police officer.

Now, the city council is forced to spend the savings in the police budget today to pay Waffle's contract-specified severance of 6 months pay, plus benefits, including vacation hours.

"It was anticipated that there would be a cash carryover from the police department out of the general fund and then with funds made available because we're reducing the court there would be funding for an additional officer," said City Recorder Debby Roth. "That could all change now."

Police funding became political

Mayor Neal Knight, who sent a fiery e-mail to Waffle in May questioning why the carryover couldn't be used to fund a police officer in the coming year, voted along with city councilors Mari Gottwald and Jamie Minshall to fire Waffle.

On May 4, Knight wrote to the city council and Waffle questioning why the city's library was hiring when the proposed budget didn't include hiring back a police officer position cut in the 2010-2011 budget cycle.

"I noticed that on our city web site there is a request to fill a job at the library," Knight wrote. "Is this for real? Why when we can't afford enough officers to keep the city safe are we adding to the cost to run the city by hiring more people at the library? Is it also true that a sugestion was made by Dave Waffle to let the only parks maintinance person go to find funds for the police officer?"

Waffle responded the same day with an explanation of the way the unspent funds from the police budget would carry over into the next year's general fund.

That month, the city's budget committee instructed Waffle to alter the budget to spend the carryover on a police officer.

But now the city may have a hard time finding money to pay for the police services in the budget.