County zoning official resigns under pressure

WOODSTOCK – A long-time, Shenandoah County employee who resigned under pressure last week says her office suffered from turnover, stagnant salaries and micromanagement.

Joyce Fadeley quit her job of 10 years as zoning and subdivision administrator with the Office of Community Development on Oct. 12. Fadeley spoke by phone Thursday about her reasons for leaving the position and the office environment created by staff turnover. She left at the request of county administrators.

“I was asked to resign because of some issues that had transpired over a period of time, some things I didn’t necessarily think were – I was asked to resign – I’m not trying to say I’m some perfect person who doesn’t make mistakes,” Fadeley said. “I just feel like because of the different management styles, certain expectations of people were kind of different and so some things you could do or you did when there was one director didn’t fly with another director.

“Basically they just weren’t happy with my work over the past couple of years,” Fadeley went on to say. “I didn’t really have that much problem with the public. I did the best that I could with what I had. I worked so hard for the public. I gave it all and I think it’s sad that county management felt the need to do what they did or to ask me to resign.”

Fadeley worked in an office that saw staff cuts several years ago during the economic downturn and labored more recently under frozen salaries, she said. With no pay raises in sight and increased turnover, morale in the office dropped.

“I can tell you that it’s been a difficult couple of years both personally and at work,” Fadeley said. “We’ve had so much turnover at the office and there was just people coming and going. When you have that kind of turnover the work has to go somewhere. So there was a lot of turnover plus, when you have so much turnover, the morale is really you know down.”

Fadeley also spoke of issues with management and pressure on the county from the public, though she did not go into specifics.

“Stuff rolls downhill if there any issues are out there going on out there in the public and it comes to the attention of the management and it kind of filters down. I was just having issues with some micromanagement and they basically asked – well, I had to resign.”

Bradley Polk’s resignation as the director of the office of community development, an agency that includes zoning and subdivision administration, left Fadeley “vulnerable.”

“When somebody leaves especially in that kind of position, you’re really kind of vulnerable because you don’t have that support, that buffer, so anything that comes down the pike you just kinda take the brunt of it,” Fadeley said.

Fadeley said she had a “fantastic relationship” with the Board of Zoning Appeals and worked well with the Planning Commission. Fadeley also lauded the office staff.

Fadeley said she felt the Board of Supervisors supported her for the most part. But pressure from the public on the Board of Supervisors concerning certain matters often trickled down to the county administration and then on to her, Fadeley said.

“Some of the things that transpired as far as what the Board of Supervisors got involved with and sometimes did create that kind of environment,” Fadeley said. “There was a lot of pressure.”

Fadeley also recalled feeling a growing sense of micromanagement and that officials questioned her decisions as a zoning administrator despite her 10 years of experience.

“In any job you need support of management to be an effective an employee – we all know that – and I just didn’t feel like I was getting support, honestly,” Fadeley said.

County administrators “took our staff” some years ago, Fadeley recalled, and moved some of the employees from planning and zoning to building inspections. While the permit technicians work hard, Fadeley said, they also deal with the public and cannot always help with planning and zoning matters.

“For them to take the time and try to help the planning duties and the zoning duties and all that – it’s herculean,” Fadeley said. “We don’t have the kind of support where you have a lot of eyes and everybody’s kind of working together to produce a product.”

Planning and zoning at one time had five employees and four people could review one staff member’s work, Fadeley said.

“All of that turnover just affected all of us, the morale and part of that just the way things are being managed,” Fadeley said.

A lack of pay raises also affected the office.

“We haven’t had raises in a long time,” Fadeley said. “It makes it difficult because everything else increasing and your salary is stagnant so your purchasing power goes down every year. We don’t get cost of living raises to keep up with that. That does affect morale for sure.”

Fadeley said she understood that the county needed to “tighten up” during the economic downturn.

“But there’s a point in time when you’re going to lose your staff,” Fadeley said. “You’re not paying them and if you continue down that road you’re just gonna continue to lose people.”

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