Port of Poulsbo terminates manager

POULSBO — Claiming that manager Barbara Waltz had committed malfeasance and misappropriations, Port of Poulsbo Commissioners last Thursday night voted unanimously to terminate her from the payroll. The decision followed weeks of speculation about the manager’s future with the port and comes on the heels of a week of administrative leave.

Waltz, who was placed on leave Jan. 17, said she was called last Wednesday — the night before she was fired — and urged to attend the Jan. 24 session.

At that meeting, the board gave her a choice to either resign or be terminated. According to the minutes, Commissioner Mike Winters had told Waltz, “I have discussed (this) with you and you have said that you would like to be terminated...”

Waltz denied this claim, but refused to resign, noting, “I would like the record to show I was given a choice and I did not say I would like to be terminated.”

The former manager later explained that she refused to resign because she didn’t feel she did anything wrong.

Discussions concerning the manager’s job began to surface in late-2001, Commissioner Tony DeCarlo confirmed this week.

“It just came to our attention,” he said.

After hearing “rumors on the docks,” Commissioner Mike Winters said the port began taking a closer look at Waltz’ record. Numerous executive sessions were held and the commission compiled a list of allegations against the former manager.

The matter came to a head last Thursday when Winters made the port’s concerns public.

Claims that Waltz had disobeyed port policy on liveaboards, taken a work desk home, allowed port employees to basically salvage items off an abandoned boat, written off moorage costs for a tenant and changed boathouse charges for another tenant were leveled at that time.

“One other issue was found once we looked back into the sick leave records. we found in 1999 you gave herself and additional 98 hours of sick leave,” Winters told Waltz, according to the Jan. 26 minutes.

“I couldn’t give myself that, that (has) to do with the bookkeeper and is a bookkeeping error,” Waltz responded. “I want the record to reflect that.”

But port bookkeeper Carol Tripp, who was named interim manager this week during a special session, said she had “documentation to substantiate the sick leave (discrepancy).”

“Do you feel she did take additional sick leave?” Winters asked this Wednesday.

While Tripp did not give a “yes” or “no” answer, she did point out again that she had supporting paperwork.

Tripp, who also assists the port’s CPA, will have three jobs to juggle if the commissioners don’t find a new manager by tax season. Until then Winters pledged that services at the Port of Poulsbo would continue unhindered.

“We’re not going to shut down the port,” he remarked, before referring further questions to the port’s attorney Greg Norbutt.

Norbutt kept the “port’s official policy” on such employee terminations and did not comment on the matter.

Waltz also refused to comment but said, “I wasn’t given the opportunity to respond to the accusations and in due time I will respond with the advice of an attorney.”

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