A special session of Hillsboro City Council requested by mayor Drew Hastings resulted in no action being taken Wednesday evening after a lengthy executive session.
Immediately after the meeting was called to order, a motion was made by council member Tracy Aranyos at 5:35 p.m. for council to enter into executive session. Ann Morris seconded the motion and council voted unanimously to enter into executive session.
Council returned from the executive session and called the meeting to order again at 6:25 p.m. Council president Lee Koogler said no action would be taken and the meeting was adjourned.
Koogler said council entered the executive session to discuss “personnel issues and threatened litigation.”
“We have five or six things we’re allowed to call an executive session for and this was one that fell under personnel related,” Hastings said.
The meeting was presumably called to further discuss the issue of former Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin still being paid.
Hastings fired Wilkin on Nov. 22, about two weeks after a jury acquitted the mayor on felony charges in a trial in which Wilkin was a key witness.
Through a public records request this week, The Times-Gazette confirmed that Wilkin remains on the city payroll, so far being paid nearly $9,000 in gross wages across three two-week pay periods since his dismissal by Hastings, with the latest payment covering the most recently completed pay period of Dec. 25, 2016 through Jan. 7, 2017.
Hillsboro Law Director Fred Beery, who apparently directed the city auditor to continue the payments, has defended that decision, but has been reluctant to discuss the matter in much detail, citing legal reasons.
Hastings said earlier this week that he is “vehemently opposed” to Wilkin continuing to be paid. The mayor has consistently said that Wilkin’s firing was within his purview, and others should not have become involved. On Monday, Hastings said it was his understanding that Wilkin would only be paid through the end of 2016, and while he disagreed with that, he was willing to accept it since council seemed to favor it.
But now, Hastings said this week, the city is paying both Wilkin as well as Stantec Engineering, a firm Hastings has engaged under a short-term contract to handle city service issues, meaning that a total of about $14,000 a month is being expended “for SSD pay,” according to the mayor.
Wilkin was hired in 2013 at an annual salary of $74,000. He has retained the firm of Freking, Myers & Reul to represent him, and his attorneys notified the city in December that Wilkin is appealing his dismissal on the grounds that he qualifies as a whistleblower.
Koogler and Beery said after Wednesday’s meeting that they were prohibited by law to discuss anything related to what transpired during the executive session.
Hillsboro City Council typically meets regularly at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at Hillsboro Municipal Court, 130 Homestead Ave.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.