Accounting supervisor asking Urbana council to save job
URBANA — A city employee is asking council members to save her job after being slated for elimination in Mayor Laurel Prussing's annual staff appointments.
About 30 city employees who hold their jobs by virtue of mayoral appointment must be reappointed annually in order to stay in those positions. The list of Prussing's reappointments will be up for approval when the city council meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.
This year, the only exclusion on the list is Accounting Supervisor Liz Walden, who will lose her job as of July 1 if the appointments pass. Walden, who is married to former Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Walden, said she has been given no reason for what could become her termination after 24 years with the city of Urbana.
Prussing said she has not reappointed four people in her eight years as mayor. One of those four people was Bruce Walden, whom Prussing did not allow to return as the city's chief administrative officer in 2007. The position was never filled, though the mayor did hire a chief of staff in 2009.
Prussing cited personnel issues when she did not invite Bruce Walden to return, as she is now doing with Liz Walden.
Her decision is based on "events that have been happening that I found out about," Prussing said.
Prussing's termination of the chief administrative officer became a political issue in the years that followed, though Prussing says her decision to not reappoint Liz Walden has nothing to do with her tenuous history with Bruce.
"I would say that this is based on the individual and not other things," Prussing said.
Liz Walden is trying to highlight her "outstanding work record" with the city. As the accounting supervisor, she prepares paychecks, pays city bills and ensures revenues are properly billed and collected. She said she has also been acting as a de facto deputy comptroller while the finance department goes through a proposed reorganization.
"I was never given a reason why I was not reappointed," Walden said.
Walden met or exceeded all evaluation points in a work appraisal completed on Jan. 24 by then-Comptroller Ron Eldridge, who has since retired.
In his evaluation, Eldridge wrote "Liz's accounting skills are unique and not found in city's (sic) of Urbana's size." He also said Walden serves as an "excellent example for others" and her training skills improved the work of two people under her supervision.
"I do not understand why I am being targeted," Walden wrote in a letter to city council members. "No Urbana employee has ever been terminated due to a reorganization. Something is very wrong here. I want to keep my job."
Prussing said she "took a hard look at" Walden's employment and said her decision was based on "some personnel issues that arose." She also said this is a different situation than her decision to not reappoint Bruce Walden in 2007.
"We don't have to rehash that, but he's lobbying for her, and they're distorting what the situation is," Prussing said.