Special council meeting to decide Fire Chief’s employment

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The Mesquite City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, May 16 at 1 p.m. in council chambers to discuss the employment status of Mesquite Fire Department Chief Kash Christopher according to city manager Andy Barton and city attorney Bob Sweetin.

“There will be one item on the agenda and that will be to consider the employment agreement between the city and Fire Chief Kash Christopher,” Sweetin said.

“We want to take our time with this before we make any more decisions,” Barton said. “The decision will be that of the council. At the special meeting, I will be making a recommendation on how to proceed but I’m not prepared to do that just yet.” Neither Barton or Sweetin would say what the recommendation would be.

Technically, Christopher is still employed by the city however, Barton and Sweetin said he was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Thursday, May 4 when “he was informed in writing about the action according to our policies,” Sweetin said.

As first reported in the Mesquite Local News, employee dissatisfaction with Christopher came to a head earlier this month causing him to be given an option to resign or be fired.

“The city has no comment on reports of employee dissatisfaction in the fire department,” Sweetin said, referencing an earlier article in the Mesquite Local News. “We’re not making any comment on whether there are factual errors in the article. The city doesn’t have a position on that one way or another.”

However, both men confirmed that a full investigation will be conducted by an outside agency into allegations of sexual misconduct between management and employees in the fire department as first reported by MLN. According to sources, Christopher was not part of the alleged misconduct. However, employees allege that he did not do enough to stop or prevent it.

“Yes, there will be an investigation in accordance with our personnel policies,” Barton said. “It would be irresponsible for us not to investigate the allegations. Who will conduct it has not been determined yet. It will be conducted as soon as we can arrange it. But, we are not accusing anyone of anything at this time. Our intent is not to sit on this.”

Also, concerns had been raised as far back as May 2016 that Christopher was not complying with a clause in his contract that required him to live within 15 miles of Mesquite. Christopher was renting a condo in Mesquite from Mayor Al Litman and insisted that was his local residence. However, his family continued to live in North Las Vegas and he split his time between the two locations.

Even though the issue was never resolved, multiple vetted sources told the MLN that it was part of the current action to evaluate Christopher’s continued employment with the city.

According to Christopher’s employment contract, should he be terminated without cause he will receive three months’ severance pay and compensation for any unused vacation time. He will not receive any retirement benefits associated with the severance pay. If he is terminated with cause, he is not eligible for any severance pay.

Christopher was hired as the Mesquite Fire Department Chief in June 2014. According to TransparentNevada.com, he received $99,058 in salary with additional benefits bringing that to a total of $157,047.

During the 2016 budget hearings, Christopher was granted a 20 percent pay increase that became effective on July 1, 2016 bringing his current salary to $112,794.

Several attempts by MLN to contact Christopher have not been answered.

 

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