Parks and recreation suspensions ongoing as probe continues

Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department Director Angela Parker and Community Centers Director Laura Hildreth are still on paid leave while the police department is wrapping up an investigation on a 2012 budget shortfall of $117,000 within the agency.

Parks and recreation commission member Jeff Pulliam said Wednesday that he understood police plan to interview the women and hope to have the investigation completed by Friday.

The commission suspended Hildreth and Parker with pay on Dec. 11, a day after it declared Parker had been “negligent” in her management of the department’s summer program funds. The monies are at the core of appropriations that exceeded budgeted amounts.

Initially, commissioners estimated the suspensions would be in effect “three or four days” while a police probe was ongoing. The panel also indicated a state legislative audit would be requested.

Commissioners decided that in the absence of Parker and Hildreth, Teki Jimenez would be interim director and Trudy Redus would oversee the department’s office. But Jimenez, a former commissioner, has never performed any duties. Pulliam said Wednesday that the department might not have enough funds to compensate Jimenez for her service. He had previously said that “time restraints” involving her other activities might prevent her from serving.

Meanwhile, Redus — manager of the department’s Saracen Landing facility — is continuing in her temporary role. Redus, the wife of Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., served an unpaid two-week suspension in May after an April traffic accident involving a department utility vehicle she was driving. Following the accident, Redus failed to take a drug test as ordered by Parker. Redus said no test was administered because she was unable to provide required directives from city officials to a Jefferson Regional Medical Center nurse.

Parker was present when the commission issued the suspensions, but Hildreth wasn’t. Afterward, Parker said she believed her suspension “is related to my intentions to terminate Hildreth.”

Parker produced a copy of a Nov. 30 termination letter that she said was not delivered to Hildreth. The letter outlined her differences with Hildreth.

She said the commission had been aware of her plans to fire Hildreth, but she had been asked to “hold off” on the discharge. Parker added that the budget issue “isn’t anything new,” and “actually goes back to May.”

Parker has since declined to give on-the-record comments. Efforts to contact Hildreth have been unsuccessful.

Parker’s 2012 annual salary is $52,300, according to city Finance Director Steve Miller. Hildreth earns $37,202 and Redus is paid $41,800. Pulliam said last week that Redus would not be receiving additional compensation in her extended role.