Sarah Austin fired as Portales city manager

Apr. 2—Portales City Council members voted 6-2 on Tuesday to terminate the contract of City Manager Sarah Austin.

Council members went into executive session for about 30 minutes before voting. Veronica Cordova and Eldon Merrick opposed Austin's termination. The other six Council members voted for termination "without cause."

Austin and Council members all declined comment.

Austin was placed on paid administrative leave last week. She said she was not given a reason for the action.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Austin will be paid for the remainder of her contract. City Attorney Steve Doerr said termination details are still being negotiated.

Austin, previously the city manager in Milan, was named Portales city manager in June 2021 after a probationary period. In 2022, City Council members extended her contract through 2024, records show.

The city has faced water shortages throughout Austin's tenure and in the summer initiated a strict policy that prohibited most outdoor watering. The policy she established with the City Council has been unpopular with many community residents. But officials have declined to say whether water issues led to Austin's termination.

Her contract was the only matter on the Council's agenda Tuesday.

We'll have more information in Sunday's newspaper.

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