While difficult, decision best serves taxpayers, official says

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

The City of Burlington on Wednesday eliminated an administrative position within its police department leaving a longtime civilian employee without a job.

Administrative Services Supervisor Kim Hardesty, who has been with the department more than 34 years, was informed of the decision – effective immediately ­– after she reported for work Wednesday morning, according City Administrator Carina Walters.

Walters said the decision is continued fallout from last summer’s flood, which knocked out the city’s dispatching equipment and eventually led the City Council to decide to eliminate local dispatching and join the Racine County Communications Center.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the department reorganization plan proposed by Walters and Police Chief Mark Anderson Tuesday night following a closed-to-the-public discussion regarding personnel.

A ‘difficult decision’

Walters said the decision was extremely difficult but was made with the best interests of taxpayers in mind.

“2017 has been very challenging for the community,” she said. “(The flood) has literally turned upside down residents, businesses and employees.

“It really forced some difficult decisions for (city) officials.”

Walters said a significant portion of Hardesty’s job involved supervision of the dispatching staff. Once that element of the job was eliminated, she said, it was incumbent on administration to perform its “due diligence” in terms of reorganizing the department.

Walters said the other tasks that were handled by Hardesty will be divided among other staff, including the department’s clerk and administrative officers.

Some decry decision           

While the move represents additional savings for local taxpayers, not all are happy with the city’s actions. Multiple people have contacted the Standard Press to complain about the decision.

“She was the glue that held that department together through several changes in police chiefs,” retired police officer Steve Hausner said. “It just seems wrong.”

Hardesty declined an opportunity to speak to a reporter Wednesday, saying through a third party that she wanted to discuss the situation with her attorney before commenting on the record.

Tuesday night’s City Council decision also directed staff to offer a severance package to Hardesty, Walters said.

The package, according to Walters, is similar to those offered to three dispatchers who lost their jobs Jan. 1 when the city transitioned its police dispatching to the county Communications Center.

If Hardesty – who was paid $35.69 per hour, according to Walters – accepts the package, she will continue to be paid for slightly more than 34 weeks, which is one week for each year of service to the city.

According to Hausner, Hardesty is 16 months shy of her 55th birthday, at which point she can begin collecting her state retirement benefits.

Additional coverage of the police department reorganization will appear in the March 15 print edition of the Burlington Standard Press.