BURLINGTON — The Burlington Police Department has let go of its longtime administrative services supervisor, Kim Hardesty, who worked for the department for 34 years.
City Administrator Carina Walters said Hardesty was notified in advance of last week’s City Council meeting that the council would vote on a restructuring plan for the department that eliminated her position.
“Given her long tenure with the city, staff felt it was appropriate to discuss the possible reorganization prior to that evening,” said Walters.
Part of Hardesty’s job was to supervise BPD’s dispatchers. After the dispatch equipment was damaged in last summer’s flood, the city decided in October to outsource dispatch operations to the Racine County Communications Center in Yorkville.
The city formally approved separation agreements with three of its dispatchers in December. Two of them had been transferred to other positions with the city.
Walters said that after outsourcing dispatch services “a natural discussion was to review the Administrative Services Supervisor position.”
According to the memo sent to Mayor Jeannie Hefty and the Council regarding the reorganization, Walters and Police Chief Mark Anderson had assessed the department’s structure and identified ways it “could operate in a more efficient and effective manner.”
“We feel this is an excellent opportunity to enhance our services while delivering the most fiscally responsible structure for the organization,” read the memo.
Hardesty’s remaining duties were disseminated among four other department employees. She received a similar severance package as the dispatchers — a week of full-time pay for every year she’d been with the department.
The council’s discussion of the restructuring was held in closed session. When the council reconvened into open session, it was approved.
On Wednesday morning, Hardesty was informed she no longer had a position at the department, effective that day.
‘A soul has been crushed’
Steve Hausner, a former Burlington Police officer, criticized the decision as “terrible treatment of a hard-working, loyal employee.”
Hausner said that Hardesty had been the “glue that held the department together.”
“If anyone deserved a ceremony or celebration of their career, it was her,” said Hausner. “It’s just wrong.”
In a letter to the editor, retired Burlington Police Chief Ron Patla said Hardesty had planned on retiring when she was eligible in 16 months, or 64 weeks. Her severance package provided her full-time salary for 34 weeks.
“That’s essentially 30 weeks short of her retirement. For that difference, a soul has been crushed. A well-serving, loyal and faithful employee is left feeling betrayed and rejected,” wrote Patla. An online local newspaper article, according to Patla's letter, "says this difficult decision best serves taxpayers. Maybe so, but at what price?”
Patla had worked with Hardesty for about two decades before he retired in 2003. He said Hardesty moved up in the department due to her performance and accomplishments. He said he was heartbroken and that she’d deserved more at the end of her service.
“I just feel bad about the way she ended a very long and dedicated career to the city,” said Patla. “I wish that somehow she could have retired with dignity and grace instead of being terminated quickly.”
Hardesty was unavailable for comment.