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Court rules Zionsville mayor can't demote employees without approval from town council

Zionsville Town Hall.PNG
Posted at 3:02 PM, Jun 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-05 15:02:49-04

ZIONSVILLE — A judge has determined the Zionsville mayor doesn't have the authority to demote the town's fire chief without approval from the town's council, according to a statement from the mayor.

The statement and court's decision came after a dispute in March over who has authority to fire town employees. Zionsville Mayor Emily Stryon put the department's fire chief on administrative leave for a week and said he would be given new job responsibilities the following week after the town's council decided not to demote the chief.

"As Town executive, I took action on behalf of the best interest of the Fire Department," Stryon said in a statement released Friday. "The court ruled that the Mayor does not have the authority to demote the Fire Chief without Town Council approval."

Stryon said the need for the court to clarify roles and responsibilities stemmed from the language in the town's reorganization document and powers given to the mayor.

In March, Town Council President Joshua Garrett said he was caught off guard by the mayor's request.

"The first half of the year of her first term, things seemed quite well. The chief got a glowing review from the mayor that I've seen," Garrett said in March. "Then, something happened. I don't know what happened. I wasn't there. It went from a very positive relationship to suddenly wanting to make a change there."

You can read Stryon's full statement below:

It’s a true honor to serve as an elected official in this town. With the uniqueness of our structure of government, the need for clarity on roles and responsibilities arose due to language in the Reorganization document and powers which had been granted to the Mayor. Having the best leadership we can have at the Zionsville Fire Department matters to me, as Mayor and as a citizen. As Town executive, I took action on behalf of the best interest of the Fire Department. The court ruled that the Mayor does not have the authority to demote the Fire Chief without Town Council approval. I am committed to moving forward and continuing to work on behalf of the citizens of our town. There will be no further comment at this time.