Officials: Cedar Hills resignations not connected to Mayor Eric Richardson's lawsuit
Cedar Hills • Officials with this Utah County city say the resignations of city manager Konrad Hildebrant, city recorder Kim Holindrake and building official Bradley Kearl have nothing to do with Mayor Eric Richardson's legal woes.
City councilman Gary Gygi and city attorney Eric Johnson said it was "coincidence" that the three resigned Tuesday, just as the Commodities Futures Trading Commission sued Richardson and his business partner, Christopher D. Hales, for allegedly using investor funds for personal expenses.
"If we would have known the CFTC was filling charges [against Richardson], why would we fire people the same week?" Gygi said, adding that his use of the word "fire" was in the hypothetical sense.
Nor did it have anything to do with the ongoing protests against the clubhouse/recreation center at the city's golf course, Gygi and Johnson said.
Former council member Ken Cromar, who has led the opposition to the city's use of recreation funds to build the community center, had sent a letter to the council, demanding the city manager and mayor resign, a week before the May 1 meeting in which Hildebrant and the others stepped down.
Cromar said he's not happy that Hildebrant is getting a severance package.
"Not one additional red cent should be taken from the taxpayers," said Cromar, renewing his accusation that Hildebrandt and Richardson misappropriated city funds to build the community center and buck up the golf course's finances. Cromar maintains the impact fees used for the clubhouse were earmarked for a city pool and recreation center.
Johnson said Hildebrandt's contract grants him half his $155,106 salary as severance and, after six months, the city would pay him the difference between his city salary and whatever his new job pays.
Holindrake and Kearl were granted three month's wages as severance.
Earlier this year, the Utah County Attorney's Office looked into accusations of misappropriation against Hildebrandt and Richardson by residents Paul Sorenson and Ken Severn, and found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Gygi would not elaborate on why Hildebrandt, Holindrake and Kearl resigned, noting only that they were appointees who could be fired at will without cause. He said the council, which he joined in January, had been looking for months at Hildebrandt's contract, and scoffed at the suggestion that Cromar's April letter spurred the resignations.
Johnson said the three met with Richardson before Tuesday's meeting, and were told their contracts were on the agenda. Johnson said Richardson asked them if they would like to resign.
Attempts to contact Hildebrandt and Holindrake were not successful on Friday. Kearl said he could not comment, as he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of his severance agreement.
Gygi said the city is launching a forensic audit of city finances in the wake of the charges against Richardson. While the city considers Richardson innocent until proven guilty, the city is doing the audit as a safeguard. Gygi said Richardson's name was not on any city accounts, and he had a city-issued credit card that was monitored.
According to Gygi, the audit is not connected to the resignations and would have gone ahead even if the officials did not resign.
"I welcome the audit," Richardson said Friday, adding that he believes it will put Cromar's complaints to rest.
The Cedar Hills City Council will meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. to approve a contract for an audit of the city's finances. The meeting will be at the Public Works Building, 10246 N. Canyon Road.