City manager Kathleen Soltis and the City of Prince George have parted ways.
“We have reached a mutual agreement to end the contract,” Mayor Lyn Hall told the Daily News Friday, stressing that it was a mutual agreement.
Soltis and administration have been under fire lately for a series of city projects that have gone over-budget with Soltis, using authority granted to her by council last year, approving the overruns without getting prior approval from council.
Hall declined to say what precipitated the decision for the city and Soltis to part ways, citing labour relations policy. He did say, however, that it was not COVID-19 related. The city has laid off staff due to the pandemic, which is costing the city more than $1 million a month. He also declined to discuss what kind of severance package Soltis will receive. However, that information will be public when the city publishes its statement of financial information, traditionally released in June.
Soltis started with the city in 1986 as a personnel officer. She served in multiple management roles and as city manager, led the 2017 referendum for a new downtown pool and fire hall. She was elevated to the role of city manager shortly after Hall was first elected mayor. She replaced Beth James who was let go by the then-new administration.
“It was an honour and privilege to serve in the local government of my community and I’m particularly proud to have been part of a team with all of the city staff who go about their work each and every day,” she said in a statement. “Their work is often invisible but what they do contributes so much to making Prince George such a great place to live.”
Walter Babicz, general manager of administrative Services, is now acting city manager. Ian Wells, general manager of planning and development, is acting deputy city manager. Hall said the search will now start for a new city manager and expects the ‘acting’ positions to be in place at least until Christmas.
“We don’t want to hurry this process,” he said.