NEW PORT RICHEY — Four days after firing two high-ranking New Port Richey officials, interim city manager Susan Dillinger would not explain her actions — even to at least one of the people she dismissed.
Dillinger informed Mayor Bob Consalvo on Thursday that she had fired city finance director Doug Haag and human resources director Lindy Thomas. But on Monday, the firings were not addressed as the City Council unanimously approved New Port Richey's budget — the creation of which Haag oversaw — for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
After the meeting, Dillinger shed no more light on the situation saying the city's labor attorney, David Miller, advised her not to discuss the firings or complete any written documentation as to why Haag and Thomas were fired. The only documents on file with the city were generic letters letting the two directors know they were no longer employed.
"I know how to take legal advice," Dillinger told the Times.
Miller declined to comment for this story.
Consalvo said last week he has not been told why the directors were fired, an assertion Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips echoed after the meeting Monday.
"I was told by the interim city manager and the police chief (Kim Bogart) that there were grounds," Phillips said.
Bogart declined comment, as did Thomas, 53, who had been with the city since April 2011. For his part, Haag is in the dark as to why he was fired, but declined to discuss the matter further.
The city hired Haag, 60, in June 2011.
"I was given no reason, and beyond that I have no comment at this time," Haag said.
The firings come as Dillinger's tenure as interim city manager appears to be winding down. Last week, the City Council re-opened its search for a permanent hire but pledged to have interviews of candidates completed by the end of October.
Dillinger, who has not sought the permanent position, was appointed in October 2012 following the departure of former city manager John Schneiger, who was given severance pay after saying he had lost the support of the City Council.
Prior to Dillinger's appointment, it was actually Haag who spent weeks leading New Port Richey as acting city manager while Schneiger took weeks of medical and vacation leave prior to the announcement of his departure.