City planner fired

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; City Planner Andrew L. Smith was fired from his job Friday after a little less than a year in office.

&8220;I had a conference with him this morning,&8221; Mayor Phillip West said Friday. &8220;I offered him the opportunity to resign, and he refused that offer in favor of termination.&8221;

In a statement released Friday, West said Smith&8217;s performance had been under review for the past two months.

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&8220;He has been under review in terms of his actions and interactions with other people he has to work with, including employees under his supervision,&8221; West said by telephone Friday.

Smith&8217;s firing came &8220;after a culmination of many events, a number of complaints from staff and public alike,&8221; West said in his printed statement release Friday.

Smith was hired as city planner July 2005. His time in office has been marked by controversy, including timeliness of filing reports and hiring of new personnel.

Reports of tension between Smith and the planning commission surfaced as early as March 2006.

As of Friday, Mayor West said he had no prospects to replace Smith. He said the city would do the best it could to find another city planner soon.

&8220;When you have the loss of a key official, it does adversely affect the process,&8221; West said.

The planning department is a very important part of approving building in the city, City Engineer David Gardner said Friday.

&8220;We need to work toward getting another planner in there as soon as possible,&8221; Gardner said. &8220;We have a lot of new developments either in the works or on file now.&8221;

Mayor West said this was his first firing in his two years in office.

&8220;I have not terminated anyone since I&8217;ve been here,&8221; West said, &8220;so it was a very difficult thing to do.&8221;

Attempts to reach Andrew Smith were unsuccessful.