Former Snoqualmie Police Chief Perry Phipps — who resigned last month after nearly six years with the city — did so at the request of Mayor Katherine Ross, according to documents obtained by the Valley Record.
In a two-sentence-long resignation letter addressed to Ross, Phipps wrote “after our meeting yesterday afternoon, and per your request, I am submitting my resignation.” The letter was obtained via a public records request.
“I do this with a heavy heart,” the letter goes on to say. “I will always cherish my time in this beautiful community.”
A separation agreement, also obtained via a records request, was signed by Phipps and approved unanimously by the city council on July 24. Under the agreement, Phipps will receive his regular salary for the next six months, a total cost of $88,400.
The city announced Phipps’ resignation in a press release on June 27, a week prior to his last day with the city. They did not disclose that the mayor had asked him to step down. Snoqualmie Police Capt. Brian Lynch has since been appointed interim chief.
It is unclear why the city asked Phipps, a nearly 40-year-veteran of the force, to step down. Under his tenure, dating back to 2017, the city has routinely been recognized as one of safest in Washington.
A city spokesperson declined to comment, saying they don’t speak on confidential employee matters. Efforts to reach Phipps were unsuccessful.
Alongside Phipps, several other department heads have left the city in recent months. Departures include City Administrator Mike Sauerwein, Attorney Bob Sterbank and Fire Chief Mark Correira.
Sauerwein was fired “without cause” in May, after less than 18 months on the job, the Valley Record previously reported. An explicit reason for his termination was not given in documents or by a city spokesperson.
In an email to the Valley Record in June, Ross said Sauerwein’s ouster came after the city determined it needed to “move in a different direction as it relates to leadership.”
City spokesperson Danna McCall reiterated that reasoning when asked about the departure of Phipps and Sauerwein.
“After careful consideration, it was determined that the city needed to move in a different direction as related to leadership,” she wrote in an email. “We appreciate both Mike Sauerwein’s and Perry Phipps’ time, service and accomplishments while working for Snoqualmie.”
Correira took a job with Scotts Valley Fire District in California. When reached by phone last month, he said he enjoyed his time in Snoqualmie and left on his own accord in pursuit of professional growth.
“There are many reasons for my resignation and for accepting the position in California,” Correira wrote in his resignation letter shared with the Valley Record. “The primary one centered on professional growth.”
Over 20% of city positions are currently vacant, a city employee told downtown business owners during a meeting this month. As of July, the police department, which has struggled to hire and retain staff over the last few years, had six vacancies for uniformed police.
This story has been updated to include comments from the city.