published Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Signal Mountain votes to fire City Manager Chris Dorsey

Eight months after unanimously selecting Chris Dorsey as town manager, the Signal Mountain Town Council fired him Monday night.

In what Councilman Dick Gee called "nothing more than a smear campaign" the five-person Town Council voted 3-2 to terminate Dorsey for failing to meet the expectations of his job.

Councilwoman Annette Allen motioned for Dorsey's termination, Vice Mayor Susan Robertson seconded it and Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk provided the necessary third vote to oust Dorsey, who left his seat next to Robertson immediately after the vote.

Gee and Council member Bill Wallace voted against the motion and voiced outspoken opposition to it.

"I can't find anything that raises to a level that warrants dismissal of an employee after six months," Gee said.

Wallace also seemed unsure of the reasoning behind Dorsey's dismissal, even after the Town Council discussed the issues Friday at a work session when Dorsey was permitted to explain the qualms presented to him by the unhappy members of the council.

"I think this is just wrong," Wallace said. "I think this is not a good thing."

At Lusk's recommendation,council members met with Dorsey between Friday and Monday to discuss their conflicts, but no resolution could be reached.

Boyd Veal will serve as the interim city manager and Lusk said that the Town Council will discuss its plan for hiring a new city manager when it next meets for a work day.

Dorsey worked as the city manager of Red Bank from 2005 to 2011 and served as a budget manager for the City of Memphis prior to that.

The Red Bank Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to fire Dorsey in October 2011, a fact Lusk said was taken into consideration before Signal Mountain decided to hire Dorsey.

"I certainly had no reason to believe that he wouldn't just be a fantastic candidate for us, notwithstanding his situation in Red Bank," Lusk said.

Dorsey turned down the city manager position in East Ridge to take the position in Signal Mountain. He agreed to a salary of $90,376 upon his hiring.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at @dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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