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Tucson City Council fires Letcher, city manager’s last day is Friday

The Tucson City Council unanimously voted to fire City Manger Mike Letcher this afternoon rather than let him complete another year as he requested in his resignation letter sent to the council yesterday morning.

Letcher’s last day is Friday. The vote was 6-0. Under the city charter, the mayor does not have a vote in the hiring or firing of the city manager.

The council hired Letcher in April 2009 after it fired Mike Hein. He started with the city in 2001, hired as an assistant by former city manager Jim Keene. He applied for Keene’s job in 2005 but the city hired Hein instead.

Letcher had intended to retire in 2009 but delayed his retirement to take on leading the city in the middle of a financial crisis created by the recession. Since taking over as manager the city has cut nearly $100 million in annual spending from the general fund budget and reduced its workforce by about 1,000 employees.

Scandals have plagued the city and Letcher the past few months including trouble in the city’s 911 emergency system and the city’s parking authority. Tuesday, Letcher submitted a letter of resignation to the council, but wanted the effective date to be next Aug. 31.

The council instead decided to make his last day Friday, essentially firing him.

Councilman Steve Kozachik has been especially vocal about Letcher’s leadership and Letcher’s letter complained bitterly about what he called Kozachik’s “interference” in his management of the city.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, who made the motion to terminate Letcher’s employment, thanked Letcher for his service to the city and said that she knew he wouldn’t want to serve as city manager when the council was divided about his performance.

The council had given Letcher a performance evaluation in June, and Uhlich and others gave him high praise for his management of the city during the budget crisis.

Under the terms of his contract, Letcher is due six months severance. His current salary is more than $211,000, according to the Arizona Daily Star.


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