Moline administrator's resignation blamed on 'near-poisonous atmosphere'

Moline administrator's resignation blamed on 'near-poisonous atmosphere'

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MOLINE -- One Moline alderman is blaming City Administrator Doug Maxeiner's abrupt resignation Tuesday on a "near-poisonous atmosphere" between city officials.

In a press release Tuesday night, Mayor Stephanie Acri said the decision was mutually agreed upon by city council members and Maxeiner.

Acri said Wednesday Maxeiner's departure took place during open session at Tuesday's city council meeting, although it was not on the agenda. 

"It's a personnel matter; I don't have a lot of details," Acri said. "It is a mutual separation, and the council is wishing Doug the very best moving forward. I'm grateful for all of (Maxeiner's) good efforts in making Moline a success."

Acri said Public Works Director J.D. Schulte will serve as interim city administrator until a permanent replacement is found.

Ald. Dick Potter, 4th Ward, said a separation agreement already had been drafted before Tuesday's meeting, and all it needed was approval.

"I think its the culmination of a near-poisonous atmosphere that exists between some aldermen and some senior staff," Potter said.

Potter said he is not among the aldermen causing the near-poisonous atmosphere. 

"I can sense an unhealthy distrust between some aldermen and some senior staff," Potter said. "I think it's unhealthy for the community. We have so many positives; if we can't establish a better relationship, we're not going to be able to attract or retain the skilled, experienced staff we need to run our community."

Ald. David Parker, Ward 2, disagreed with Potter's assessment of the atmosphere at city hall. 

"I would say that's Dick's opinion and not mine," Parker said. 

"(Maxeiner) is moving on and so are we; we decided to part ways," Parker said. "I certainly like Doug and wish him the very best in his career. He did great work for the city."

"It wasn't even a resignation -- we mutually agreed to separate and sever ties," Ald. Sonia Berg, at large, said. 

In October, city council members rejected a 2019 budget from Maxeiner that included a 2.5 percent property tax increase. Maxeiner said the increase was needed to offset the .3 percent "anemic growth" of the city's revenues in 2018 and stated it likely wasn't what city council members wanted to hear. 

Council members eventually approved a 2019 budget without a property tax increase that instead focused on spending cuts. 

Alds. Lori Turner, Michael Waldron, Quentin Rodriguez, Kevin Schoonmaker and Mike Wendt could not be reached for comment. 

In a release, Maxeiner said he was grateful for the opportunity in Moline and will miss the daily interaction and professional relationships he built with staff, elected officials, governmental and nonprofit partners, and the residents of Moline.

Maxeiner was hired in May 2017 at a salary of $157,500. According to the 2019 budget, Maxeiner's salary had risen to $162,515 and included an annual automobile allowance of $4,800. 

At the time of his hiring, Maxeiner had more than 25 years of experience in municipal government. He previously served as village administrator for Wauconda and Hampshire, and as city administrator in McHenry, in addition to holding several support staff positions in Rockford.

Maxeiner's departure follows a tumultuous two years of turnover in the city, beginning with the controversial firing of longtime City Clerk Tracy Koranda in April 2017 after she was placed on administrative leave in January 2017.

Brandy Blackburn was hired as city clerk in October 2017 and quit after one week on the job. Janine Hollembaek Parr was hired as clerk in February 2018, and she remains in the position. 

Police Chief John Hitchcock was placed on administrative leave following his arrest for driving under the influence Sept. 7, 2018. Hitchcock resigned in October after pleading guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

The city is currently interviewing for a new police chief. 

Acri said the city will work with Gov HR in the search for a new administrator. 

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