9/11/2013 10:45:00 AM CYFD chief's status remains under discussion
Heidi Dahms-Foster Special to the Tribune
While the Central Yavapai Fire Board Friday afternoon voted 3-2 to retain Chief Paul Nies, with a vote of confidence from the board, unless he chooses to continue negotiations to resign, the matter may not yet be resolved.
The agenda for the board's meeting on Aug. 17 includes an Executive Session item concerning negotiations relating to Nies' employment status.
After meeting in executive session at the Prescott Valley Library auditorium Friday, board members Bob Gardiner, Bob Page and Tom Steele voted to retain Nies. Debbie Horton and Steve Rutherford voted against the motion.
In May, the board went head-to-head on Nies' performance evaluation. The meeting took place after the resignation of board chairman John Range, who cited health reasons.
The often emotional discussion in May showed Nies had solid support from Gardiner and Page, firefighters and staff, but Horton and Rutherford gave his overall performance poor marks.
Horton rated Nies poorly on nearly every point of the evaluation. She cited several CYFD policy manual entries regarding completion of plans and goals.
Page said he rated Nies superior on most parts of the evaluation, as did Gardiner, lauding his skills in labor management and teamwork.
Many firefighters and staff members who spoke at the meeting said Nies gives them clear direction and strong leadership.
The board agreed in May to discuss in executive session how to proceed with the evaluation. In June, Steele joined the board, Rutherford was elected chairman, and Horton was named clerk.
In the board's August meeting, Gardiner made a motion to not accept Nies' resignation, and Page seconded the motion. Horton and Rutherford voted against the motion, while Steele abstained, consequently canceling the motion.
However, the next day, Nies said that he did not submit a letter of resignation.
"The board is not in possession of a letter of resignation from me. There is an employment dispute, but they do not have a letter from me indicating I am going to resign," he said, adding that, on the advice of legal counsel, he could not provide any more details.
Nies was on vacation during the Friday meeting and an attempt to reach him for comment was unsuccessful.