The Rockwall City Council has moved toward firing City Manager Julie Couch, who had been the city’s top administrator for 18 years.
The council’s 5-2 vote Monday authorized drafting a resolution terminating Couch’s contract. That document is expected to be ready for a vote when the council meets again Nov. 21. Couch’s name, however, has already been removed from the city website’s list of top administrators.
He said he was dissatisfied with her handling of a public dispute last month over the animal shelter’s effort to balance a reduction in its euthanasia rate with the managing of diseased animals.
Russo said there was also a need for better communication with residents and council members.
“There were multiple issues,” he said. “It was a performance issue and not personal. … There was no vendetta.”
Council members referred questions about Couch’s contract and any severance package to City Attorney Pete Eckert, who could not be reached at his office Wednesday afternoon. Couch has an open-ended contract as opposed to one for a fixed number of years, council members said.
A message left at Couch’s home Wednesday was not returned.
The council promoted Assistant City Manager Rick Crowley to interim city manager. Crowley has been with the city since 1984, when he, too, was hired as an administrative assistant.
Margo Nielsen, a council member and friend of Couch’s, voted against the resolution, along with Bennie Daniels.
“There was no reason — in terms of her job performance — to terminate her contract,” Nielsen said. “There was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with better communication between the council and Julie.”
Council member Michelle Smith said she couldn’t elaborate on reasons for her vote to fire Couch. She said language in the city manager’s contract prohibits the council from disclosing those details.
“While we appreciate the many good things Mrs. Couch has done for this city, we feel it’s in the best interest of the city of Rockwall that we move forward in a new direction leadership-wise,” Smith said.