Purcellville Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas was placed on administrative leave Tuesday, pending the outcome of an independent administrative investigation into his conduct since taking the post in May.
According to a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the town is in the process of retaining an independent investigator to conduct an audit and investigation.
The action follows revelations that Vanegas had an inappropriate personal relationship with human resources consultant Georgia Nuckolls, who was hired to lead the investigation that resulted in the firing of the town’s police chief earlier this month.
The Town Council was briefed on the allegations during an emergency closed session Saturday morning. At that time, the council took no formal action in public and did not place Vanegas on leave.
“The employee involved in the relationship will be disciplined in accordance with the Town’s personnel manual and procedures. Further, the Town will implement measures that will govern all future contract awards, designed to prevent the recurrence of these issues,” according to a town statement released following that meeting.
Vanegas did not return to work on Monday.
This comes seven months after 24-year town manager Rob Lohr retired, a decision that many in the town accused Town Council members of forcing.
Mayor Kwasi Fraser met with the town staff Tuesday morning and expressed his confidence in the ability of town employees to continue serving with the highest level of care and professionalism.
“As we work to rebuild a positive, collaborative and stable organization, I want you all to know that my and Town Council’s commitment with this effort will be to you, the employees,” Fraser said, according to a statement released by the town. “With your help, led by incredible department heads and management team, we will rebuild and move forward in a positive direction.”
Fraser said the town would hire another interim town manager “as soon as possible.”
Until then, Hooper McCann, the town’s long-serving director of administration will have the full authority to conduct town business in the capacity of an interim town manager, he said.