PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Portsmouth City Council voted Tuesday night to fire the city assessor.
Council members ousted City Assessor Patrick Dorris in a 5-1 vote. Councilman De'Andre Barnes was removed from the meeting over a disagreement regarding a phone policy; however, Barnes told 13News Now he voted against the firing prior to the meeting.
Multiple Portsmouth residents approached the podium, saying they are paying too much out of pocket on their tax bills thanks to this year's assessments. Their concerns centered around the now change in leadership when it comes to the city assessor position.
"If you go back and look at my real estate assessment history, it looks like a rollercoaster. My assessment went up $34,000 this year," said one resident who explained how he had to re-enter the workforce from retirement to pay his bills. "I understand the city assessor was fired...I'm not sure that's going to solve the problem."
City council members addressed these concerns, referencing this as one of the many concerns they had and how it played a part in their decision to vote to fire Dorris from his position.
"Somewhere, something is broken," said Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke when addressing the people's concerns. "So, as mad as you are on one end, I'm just as mad on the other end."
However, Councilman Mark Whitaker argued against the vote, claiming the decision to fire Dorris had nothing to do with how he performed in his job.
"Mr. Dorris exposed some things that some people in this city were being privileged by. He exposed we have a golf course that hasn't paid real estate taxes in 50 years," Whitaker explained. "I think it was his moral courage and standing up against the privileged persons in this city."
Barnes agreed with Whitaker, claiming the decision to fire Dorris came before complaints were made about the high real estate assessments.
Mayor Shannon Glover said Dorris will receive six months' pay in his severance package.
Council members voted for Janey Culpepper to take over the position effective Wednesday. Mayor Glover mentioned Culpepper's salary at $120,000.
This latest vote to fire a city official is not the first time Portsmouth City Council has seen a shake-up in city leadership.
In May of 2022, council members voted to fire City Manager Angel Jones.
Shortly after that, the Deputy City Manager, the head of IT, and the Human Resources Director all left their positions for unknown reasons.
Several months after they appointed Tonya Chapman to the city manager position, council members fired her as well.
Barnes said Monday marked Dorris' last day in office. Mayor Glover said Culpepper begins in her new position just two days later on Wednesday.
13News Now reached out to Dorris for comment on the city council's decision, but he had permanently left the office before we could reach him.