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Forest Park votes not to renew contract

By Ed Brock

Forest Park's city manager for the past five years is being ousted from his $100,000 job because one of his city council supporters made a mistake and voted the wrong way.

It appears that by November Forest Park City Manager Bill Werner's contract will not be renewed, but the town's mayor still has questions about how the vote was made and some confusion reigns.

Council member Henry Estes says he unintentionally voted not to renew Werner's contract because of the way Councilwoman Debbie Youmans worded the resolution.

"I made a mistake and voted for it but the city won't be hurt," Estes said.

Youmans said she presented a resolution to exercise the city's right to renew Werner's contract, then voted no to her own resolution. Councilwoman Corine Deyton, who seconded the motion, also voted no as did Councilman Donald Judson and Estes.

Councilman Wes Lord was the only council member to vote yes on the resolution to renew Werner's contract.

The 4-1 vote meant the mayor could not exercise his veto and stop the action.

"I followed (Roberts Rules of Order) and it's allowable," Youmans said regarding her presentation of the resolution.

But the presentation of the resolution doesn't seem right to Forest Park Mayor Chuck Hall who said he wants City Attorney Jack Hancock to review the tapes of the meeting.

"Nobody really understands how (Youmans) made the motion," Hall said.

Hancock said Thursday that he had not yet been asked to research the motion.

Werner's current contract is good until Nov. 15, but he said he received a letter Thursday from Youmans, Deyton and Judson informing him that the council would not be renewing his contract in November.

"(The resolution) should've been clear," Deyton said.

Deyton and Youmans did not give specific reasons for not wanting to renew Werner's contract, but both said that in general they are ready for a change.

"I just don't feel he's the person for the job any more," Deyton said.

Werner said only that he is waiting for more information from Hall before commenting on what will happen in November.

"I just hope ultimately that I'm judged on my record," Werner said.

Deyton and Youmans had called for a special meeting in July to discuss Werner's termination but that effort was unsuccessful. Youmans also has a lawsuit pending against Werner and Hall regarding a raise Hall gave Werner in February of last year in which Youmans alleges that the raise was given without the council's proper approval.

Youmans, Deyton and Judson also voted in favor of a resolution to replace Hancock as city attorney, but Hall said Thursday that he had vetoed that motion.

Werner has been with the city for five years and makes around $100,000.