BRIGHTON, Colo. — The Brighton City Council voted to suspend the city manager Tuesday night. The 5-3 vote came after city manager Philip Rodriguez wanted to investigate a potential $70 million in apparent overcharges in the city’s utilities fund.
One council member was not present during the vote.
According to City Council member Matt Johnston, Rodriguez learned the $70 million was in a fund that was supposed to be used for water projects. However, several projects were left incomplete.
In December, Johnston accused the city of price gouging water rates.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the chambers were packed with Brighton residents. Upon the vote to suspend Rodriguez, there were loud boos from many of those attending.
“I’m confident in my ethics and integrity and I hope that that stands,” Rodriguez said.
Mayor Kenneth Kreutzer said the vote was about a personnel issue, not the water fund. He and some council members questioned Rodriguez’s leadership abilities.
Rodriguez’s attorney sent a letter to the mayor, the City Council and the city attorney. In the letter, lawyer David M. Herrera said Kreutzer planned to fire Rodriguez on July 16 following his suspension Tuesday.
Herrera argued that at least one council member had a conflict of interest and should not be included in the vote. He also said that firing Rodriguez would violate Colorado law because it prohibits “termination of employment in retaliation for exercising a specific statutory right or public duty.”
Following Rodriguez’s suspension, City Council appointed the assistant city manager as acting city manager.
City Council will vote next week on whether to permanently terminate Rodriguez.