After 10 years on the job, Wauwatosa Community Development Director Nancy Welch has been removed from her city post.
An e-mail from City Administrator Jim Archambo that was sent to city aldermen Friday afternoon said Welch had been permanently laid off "in anticipation of restructuring the position."
Welch's department includes the divisions of planning and zoning and of building and safety. She had also been responsible for physical plant maintenance.
In the interim, Archambo said, building maintenance was being assigned to Public Works Director Bill Porter, while planning and building inspections will be the responsibility of Economic Development Director Paulette Enders.
Archambo told council members that Welch had received a compensation package, including "a salary continuation period as well as a consulting retainer so the city can continue to tap into her expertise as needed on specific grant projects she was working on."
Welch said Monday that according to her settlement agreement, she cannot discuss the terms of or reasons for her departure. She is free, however, to talk about the positive aspects of her tenure with the department.
"Certainly, I think I've done a lot of good things for the city," Welch told Patch. "I was part of the negotiating team for GE (bringing its health care systems headquarters to the Research Park), I oversaw development of the city's comprehensive plan and the economic development plan.
"There's also the Burleigh Triangle master plan, the Village plan, the North Avenue plan, the Northeast Quadrant plan (on the County Grounds).
"I worked with UWM on Innovation Park and with the U.S. Department of Commerce for a $5.4 million grant to make it possible — which I literally pulled out of the air," she added.
"Then there's the $400,000 brownfields grant — I had just been given authorization for renewing that grant — the Drew's building redevelopment, the Little Red Store, Schoonmaker Reef — I was really looking forward to developing grants to make that happen."
Welch said it was not common knowledge that she had been working two jobs for the city for more than a year. Besides her duties with community development, she had taken over as de facto chief building inspector after the death of Dave Wheaton, who had held the position and was not replaced.
With that, she assumed direct supervision of the city's building inspectors as well as responsibility for maintenance of City Hall and the police station.
City aldermen said that they and all city staff were under orders not to discuss Welch's departure.
However, one official who asked not to be named because of the order said: "Nancy has been an asset to the City of Wauwatosa, and she's been treated very unfairly. She's a bastion of knowledge and that will be lost forever."
Ald. Linda Nikcevich, who is not running for re-election, said she had to respect the gag order as far as Welch's layoff, but she was displeased by the way the city administration had handled the matter.
"My concern is the bigger picture," she said. "I'm really, really upset that this restructuring went on without it going through the council.
"The city has gone through all of this long process, the demise of WEDC (Wauwatosa Economic Development Corp.) and creation of a Department of Economic Development and a Community Development Advisory Committee.
"Here we are after 3-1/2 years of this insanity, and suddenly we have a restructuring plan that the council should have been part of."
As recently as a few weeks ago, Welch's position and funding for the existing structure of her former department had been in place in the proposed 2012 budget.
Her removal and the department's restructuring come with final budget approval coming to the Common Council just a week from Tuesday.
A discussion of the restructuring was placed Monday on the agenda for this Tuesday's meeting of the Employee Relations Committee.
Welch was hired during the tenure of former mayor Terry Estness.
"I found Nancy to be a creative thinker," said Monday. "Her expertise and knowledge was a huge asset for the city."