Former Neosho finance director Jane Obert says she is still puzzled as to why she was fired late last week, and insists it was groundless.

Former Neosho finance director Jane Obert says she is still puzzled as to why she was fired late last week, and insists it was groundless.

Obert, who was terminated on Friday, Sept. 7, said that city manager Troy Royer told her she had done an excellent job for the city but then offered her the option to resign, which she refused as she said she had "done nothing wrong." Obert said she was told her termination had to do with "relationships" and that she was given a number of examples. She said she didn't feel the relationship problem was between her and Royer, though she wouldn't elaborate. Asked if it could be assumed the relationship issues were at city hall, Obert said she didn't know.

"I don't know what to assume, honestly, because I don't understand it," Obert said.

Royer said he couldn't go into detail about why Obert was let go, other than to affirm it had to do with work relationships and not job performance. He said he told Obert that she was good at her job and that he appreciated that, and confirmed that he had given her the opportunity to resign.

"I don't hold any ill will toward Jane at all," Royer said. "It just didn't work out. I hope something else comes her way and I wish her the very best of luck."

Obert was hired by Royer in September 2011 to replace former finance director Martha Mundt, whom Royer had fired inside a month of his own employment as city manager.

"My second day on the job was a public forum," Obert noted in a prepared statement. "I was introduced to the citizens of Neosho and I made them a promise. I promised them professionalism, excellence, and integrity. I promised them that every day I would do my best, I would not be perfect, but I would do my best for the city. I promised to pray for the city and asked that they do the same for me. I have kept my promise to the citizens of Neosho, serving them every day with professionalism, excellence and integrity."

On Thursday Obert issued a press release in which she listed two pages worth of her accomplishments while employed as Neosho's finance director. Highlights of improvements Obert took credit for on that detailed list include: raising the professionalism of the finance department; creating and implementing a corrective action plan for each deficiency listed in the July 2011 state audit report; a clean contracted audit; improving culture and morale at city hall, particularly at the finance department; handling two new added areas of responsibility; improving the utility billing process; improving payroll processes; improving internal controls over accounts payable; correcting the incorrect income tax treatment of employee cell phone allowances; improving the miscellaneous receivables oversight and internal controls; creating internal controls and process for concessions funds; improving internal controls for Municipal Court operations; celebrating Local Government Week with an open government open house; instrumental in securing Standard and Poor's A credit rating for the city; and establishment of a formal tax exempt financing compliance program.

However, Royer said that most of those things had been a team effort by city management staff, directors and city employees. He also said that much of it was already implemented, or being implemented, when Obert was hired, that some of it was council directives, and that some of it was required compliance procedures, and he gave examples.

"Jane was just part of the team that addressed those issues," Royer said, referring specifically to the state audit. "Each department director addressed their own issues and then we came back together as a team to put them together. We all played a role in addressing issues. We're a team here."

Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson said he has known Obert for more than 20 years, that he appreciated her service to the city and wished her the best. Commenting on Obert's press release, Davidson simply said it was a list of good things that have happened for Neosho.

"Mrs. Obert cited a number of financial accomplishments the city has seen over the last 12 months, and I appreciate the team effort that she and Mr. Royer and all of the other city employees put forth to achieve those accomplishments," Davidson said by phone. "It's a team effort on everybody's part. Some people may have had more input on some things than others, but between the city department heads, all the city employees and the city council, Neosho has accomplished a number of things, and that is to be commended."

In her prepared statement, Obert said that she "may not be responsible for the turnaround that Neosho has experienced, but I am proud of the service I provided to the city, leaving it better than I found it to the extent it was within my control."

"I will continue to pray for the City of Neosho and hope you will do the same for me," Obert said. "God bless Neosho."