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John Dougherty
Reedsburg City Administrator John Dougherty

John Dougherty no longer is Reedsburg's city administrator.

Dougherty, who was hired in August 2008, has not been performing up to Common Council expectations after multiple performance reviews, Mayor Dave Estes said. On Monday, during a closed session of the Common Council, members voted, 6-3, to let him go effective today.

"This has been in the works for a while," Estes said. "There were expectations set at evaluations at the start of the year, and then we did evaluations again about a month and a half ago and his review was unsatisfactory."

Dougherty told the Times-Press on Friday that he would be looking for another position and refused to comment further.

He will receive 180 days of severance pay, or about $40,000.

Council members Bill Finnegan, David Moon, Bob Parkhurst, Calvin Craker, Dave Knudsen and Jim Heuer voted for removal. Council members Tom Seamonson, Mike Sloat and Brandt Werner voted against removal. Seamanson and Sloat refused comment to the Times-Press, and Werner did not return a telephone call.

As a city official, the city administrator has performance reviews with the Common Council and department heads every six months.

Dougherty had his first review of the year on Feb. 14, and two more on Aug. 16 and Sept. 12, Clerk-Treasurer Anna Meister said.

Dougherty is leaving a little less than one year before his four-year contract expires, Estes said. At $80,000 per year plus benefits, he was one of the highest-paid city officials in 2011, second only to the police chief.

Dougherty’s performance reviews from February 2010 and February 2011 show he had ongoing issues both with the Council and department heads dating back to 2009. His end-of-year performance review for 2009 includes comments from Council members such as "Reports don’t look adequately professional. Concerns regarding budget information," and, "John is struggling to find the communicative style that is best suited to various staff."

The February 2011 review for 2010 shows that instead of getting better, Dougherty’s issues with city staff worsened. It also states that he engaged in what some city staff considered unethical conduct by trying to use his influence to change accident reports and threatening to disband a department during union negotiations.

Comments from staff include: "In way over his head," "Fails to act as a liaison between elected and appointed officials," and "Inaccurately recorded budget figures in several accounts, leaving a structural deficit."

His goals for 2011 contained ongoing items such as "Return phone calls within two hours of receipt" and "Update all council members within same day of request."

Knudsen said Friday that while he believed Dougherty accomplished the basic duties of his position, the climate in city hall made it difficult for Dougherty to work with city staff.

"I don’t think it was a specific issue, it’s the environment and the circumstances of the time," Knudsen said. "The consensus was that we needed to move on and go a different direction with a different person."

Parkhurst agreed, saying that Dougherty needed to take charge of staff and of his position and hadn’t done so.

"These are historic times that we’re in. We need strength and leadership in that position," he said. "You don’t like to see anyone lose their job, and I wish him all the best, but what could we do?"

Knudsen and Parkhurst both said they believe the Council will look to fill the position either with another city administrator or a city manager. Both titles would fill the same role, Knudsen said. The Council will vote on an interim administrator soon.