Longtime Columbia senior assistant city administrator Allison Baker abruptly retired on Friday after an allegation of inappropriate behavior was reported against him, according to City Manager Teresa Wilson.
If Baker had not voluntarily resigned, he would have been fired “based on the nature of the facts presented to me” and “certain admissions” made by Baker, Wilson told The State newspaper.
The allegation was reported to the city’s human resources department on Wednesday, Nov. 29, and an internal investigation began immediately, Wilson said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
One allegation was reported by one employee, city spokeswoman Leshia Utsey said. She could not be more specific than “inappropriate behavior” in describing the report against Baker, she said.
Baker admitted to the allegations against him “to a certain degree,” Wilson told The State.
“It created a loss of confidence in leadership,” Wilson said. “I’m certainly disappointed. Mr. Baker has been a long-serving public servant to our city. He’s been a colleague of mine for many years.
“Ultimately, what I have to do is react and execute actions that are best for our city in maintaining the integrity of our policies, our standards and the high expectations I set for all of our employees, no matter what position they hold.”
No other formal complaints have ever been filed against Baker as a city employee, Wilson said. There are no other disciplinary actions in his personnel file, Wilson said.
Baker did not immediately return messages from The State newspaper Wednesday afternoon.
Baker is the pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Columbia.
According to his biography on the church’s website, Baker worked for the city of Columbia since 1997, when he was hired as the director of parks and recreation. He was promoted to assistant city manager in 2004 and senior assistant city manager in 2008.
Because he worked for 20 years for the city, Baker will draw retirement benefits, Utsey said. His salary was $153,703 when he retired.
Department heads who formerly reported to Baker will now report directly to Wilson, the statement said.