Former collector appeals firing; council makes no decision

Former city collector Albert Ridgell’s appeal of his July 31 termination by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth sparked an 80-minute Pine Bluff City Council executive session Monday night, but no decision was made and the matter is in “continuance.”

Alderman George Stepps, who chairs the council’s administration committee, said the council needs to review additional information before possibly voting on Ridgell’s request for reinstatement. Stepps was uncertain when the mayor and council might resume their discussions.

Six votes from the eight-member council would be required to reinstate Ridgell.

Ridgell attended the council meeting but did not speak.

In announcing Ridgell’s dismissal, Hollingsworth said in an email that her decision “did not come lightly” and that the firing was based on “unsatisfactory work performance that has been documented for some time now.”

The mayor said then and has repeated that until Ridgell’s appeal process is completed, she will not comment further.

Ridgell, who resides in Little Rock, had served in the position since June 2007. He earned an annual salary of $51,818.52.

Gina Devers, who had been working as an internal auditor in the office of Finance Director Steve Miller, is now serving as acting city collector.

Ridgell is the third department head Hollingsworth has fired since she took office Jan. 1.

Within hours of receiving her oath of office, the mayor dismissed then-police chief Brenda Davis-Jones. In February, Brandon Southerland was fired as director of the city’s animal control department.