FILER — Mayor Rick Dunn has reassigned the city police chief’s duties to Sgt. John Darnall in the wake of the City Council’s firing of former Chief Tim Reeves.
Sgt. John Darnall took over the duties Wednesday, Dunn said in an email forwarded Thursday by Darnall to Jackie Frey, Twin Falls County emergency management coordinator, who forwarded it to the Times-News. The firing of the chief followed an executive session at the end of Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
In addition, Dunn told another officer Thursday morning that his position on the police force is on the chopping block.
Jay Wiggins’ position — as the last officer hired — will be eliminated at the end of the fiscal year, Dunn confirmed Thursday. After Sept. 30, Wiggins will no longer have a job with the city.
Rumors are flying in town as residents try to make sense of the city’s actions. Dunn is declining to say much, saying he can’t because the issues involve city personnel.
“The whole idea that you can’t comment makes people go crazy,” the mayor said.
But Dunn was quick to dispel one rumor — that he has a personal vendetta against the former chief.
“I’ve heard that for a long time,” he said, denying the accusation. Dunn said his record of approving Reeves’ previous budget requests shows he has nothing against Reeves personally.
The city is in the budgeting process now, he said. Dunn asked every city department early this year to cut its budget by 10 percent and Reeve’s didn’t comply. Dunn didn’t say that was the reason for Reeves’ firing, but he offered the explanation to show the whole city is taking a cut.
But some in town aren’t buying Dunn’s side of the story. Dunn has instructed city employees not to talk to the press — another reason townsfolk are suspicious about the city’s intentions. A petition to recall the mayor — and all but one city councilman — is circulating.
“I don’t think the budget is in that bad of shape,” said Councilman Russell “Bud” Sheridan, a former Filer mayor who has 28 years in city government under his belt. “I don’t think it was the right time to fire the chief.”
Sheridan, who issued the only no vote to the mayor’s proposal to fire Reeves, said he is going over the budget now to decide whether shrinking the police force is the wisest way to save the city money.
In June, Twin Falls County Sheriff Tom Carter presented a proposal to the City Council outlining some of the city’s costs if the sheriff’s office were to take over law enforcement for the city.
Meanwhile, petitioners are gearing up to fight the budget cuts, saying the mayor has ulterior motives. If the police force drops below five employees, the city is exempt from paying officers overtime, said Tara Wiggins, wife of Jay Wiggins, quoting the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“The Filer citizens do not have transparency (from the city),” she told the Times-News Wednesday. “(Citizens) absolutely are being kept in the dark, and they do not have a voice.”
Tara Wiggins is the Republican central committee chairwoman for Filer District 1. She and Natalie White are behind the recall effort. Neither live in Filer, but both have children in the Filer school system.
“For the first time in Filer’s history we have a community that has no faith in our leadership,” said resident Amanda Bohr, who is also involved in the recall effort.
Dunn said he doesn’t intend to run in November for a second term.
“I ran on the promise of one term,” he said.