Albion city manager placed on administrative leave now under investigation

    Albion mayor places city manager on paid administrative leave. (WWMT/Jason Heeres)

    The Albion City Council voted 6-0 on Thursday to launch a personnel investigation into Albion city manager after she was placed on paid administrative leave.

    The vote to investigate Albion City Manger LaTonya Rufus was taken after the city council members emerged from an approximately 30 minute closed-session meeting.

    Albion City Attorney Cullen Harkness said Mayor Dave Atchison made the decision to place the new city manager on leave, utilizing mayoral powers outlined in Rufus' contract.

    Harkness would not say why Rufus was put on paid leave and described it as a "delicate issue." Harkness explained he could not offer any details on what's considered a personnel matter.

    Atchison wouldn't elaborate either on the decision.

    "I don't anticipate it going any lengthy period, but they're going to look at it. They're going to do their job, they'll come back to their report to council, then we'll take appropriate action," said Atchison.

    Rufus was was hired as Albion City Manager in October 2018.

    She went on a 15-minute rant during a special council meeting held Jan. 14, 2019, which the mayor and council members Lenn Reid and Shane Williamson did not attend.

    During the meeting Rufus said, "I’ve been disrespected, harassed yelled at, walked out on, hit the gavel on, cussed out, just because I want to do my job."

    Without enough council members in attendance to vote or take action on Jan. 14, Rufus seemed to take aim at the mayor and two council members who did not attend the special meeting.

    "I can’t go to the federal government, the state, or anybody else and ask for money when we can’t even get along. It’s embarrassing you all need to think about this it’s disgraceful," Rufus said.

    The city manager also claimed she's been discriminated against and harassed since she took the job in Albion.

    "It’s to the point that I don’t even want to come outside my door because I don’t know if somebody outside watching," Rufus said. "But sitting outside my house taking pictures, watching where I come and go, and who I talk to and who I’m friends with that’s harassment."

    Rufus went on to say the situation is "almost at lawsuit" level.

    Her statements were recorded and posted to the city's YouTube page.

    Rufus also expressed frustration over talk "all over town" about how she spent money for her moving expenses.

    "Let’s be serious I spent more money than what was given to me to move to this town but you’re not worried about how to fix the roads, you’re not worried about how to fix the street signs, you’re not worried about how to put lights on the streets, you’re not worried about how to bring good businesses to town," Rufus said, "you’re worried about how a spent some money."

    She continued, "I don’t have any reason to steal from this town I live here just like everybody else, uprooted my whole life to come here to fix this city and I’m tired."

    Rufus was hired to replace Sheryl Mitchell, who resigned as city manager in March.

    "I think she stepped into a tough position because she was trying to fill some big shoes," said Albion resident Sandra Florence.

    Florence said this latest development has left her frustrated about the direction of the city.

    "I think Albion is trying desperately to get itself together, move forward, keep on going. For some reason, it seems to hiccup, it cannot get going," Florence said.

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