Contract details more in Paris’ favor than predecessor, other city managers
SALISBURY — Former City Manager Doug Paris’ contract stands out when compared to city managers in five neighboring communities.
Paris’ six-page contract also was a departure from his predecessor’s employment agreement.
David Treme, who served as city manager for 26 years, had a two-and-a-half page contract. Treme retired in 2011, but if City Council had terminated his contract, Treme would have received a six-month severance worth about $70,000.
Paris, who was city manager for two years and three months, had a one-year severance and received nearly $210,000 in salary and leave payout when City Council terminated his contract last month.
When he retired, Treme received about $72,000 from the city in annual leave payout and a performance bonus equal to three months of his salary. Treme would have earned an additional three-month bonus if he had stayed until December 2012.
Treme’s salary was $139,700 when he retired, about $5,000 more than Paris’ starting salary of $135,000. Paris did not accept a raise during his tenure.
According to Treme’s contract, he served at the pleasure of City Council for an indefinite term. The phrase “at the pleasure of City Council” does not appear in Paris’ agreement, which had a term of three years.
City Council could have fired Treme and not paid a severance if he had been convicted of any illegal act involving personal gain to him. Paris could have been fired without a severance only for conviction of a felony.
Treme had a $500 a month car allowance. Paris had no car allowance and was paid for mileage at the IRS standard rate.
Both contracts had similar language regarding performance evaluation and hours of work and comp time. Paris’ contract mandated annual performance reviews in November 2012 and November 2013, but City Council reviewed his performance once, in April 2013.
Paris’ contract included a noncompete clause forbidding him from working for any company in competition with Fibrant for one year after he leaves the city. The document allowed Paris to take consulting, teaching or other jobs while he was city manager, as long as the work did not conflict with his city responsibilities.
His contract also had a lengthy section detailing what expenses the city would cover, including professional dues, travel, non-personal but job-related expenses, civic organization dues and a mobile phone stipend.
Salisbury has a population of 33,622. Contracts for managers in five surrounding cities include the following details:
• Kannapolis, population 43,782
Mike Legg has served at the pleasure of the Kannapolis City Council since 2004 and earns $142,000.
Legg’s severance has increased as he gained experience. When first hired in 2004, Legg had a three-month severance, which increased to six months in 2008 and eight months in 2012. If Kannapolis ever fires Legg, he would receive his severance monthly, not lump sum like Salisbury paid Paris.
Unlike Paris’ severance, Legg’s severance payments would end if he gets another job.
Kannapolis City Council has three reasons to fire Legg without a severance: conviction of a felony or misdemeanor that involves moral turpitude and “any illegal act involving personal gain.”
Kannapolis council members can suspend Legg with pay at any time. That language does not appear in Paris’ contract.
• Mooresville, population 33,451
Nat Erskine Smith Jr. has served at the pleasure of the Mooresville Town Board since 2011 and earns $135,000. Smith has a six-month severance, which would be paid monthly and includes unused vacation time and health insurance.
If Smith leaves the town of Mooresville and finds a new job at or above his current salary, his severance payments would end. If he takes a new job making less, the town would pay the difference each month for the remainder of his severance.
Of the six contracts examined, Mooresville’s has the most extensive list of reasons the board could fire Smith: conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving drugs, violence or moral turpitude; insubordination, including refusing “to follow reasonable policies or directives” from the town board; failing to attend to “material duties or obligations;” engaging in a conflict of interest with the town; and violating any provision of the Mooresville personnel policy that would be grounds for termination for any other town employee.
• Concord, population 81,981
Brian Hiatt has served at the pleasure of Concord City Council since 1998 and earns $180,600. He has a four-year term with two-year extensions.
Like Paris, Hiatt has a lump sum severance, although Hiatt’s severance is for nine months, not one year. Hiatt’s severance includes accrued vacation leave but no sick leave, annual leave or holidays, like Paris. Concord council members can fire Hiatt for conviction of any felony or willful and egregious neglect of duty.
• Albemarle, population 15,932
Raymond Allen has served at the pleasure of the Albemarle City Council since 1999 and earns $119,300.
Allen also has a lump sum severance for six months’ salary, plus accrued annual leave. The Albemarle council can fire him for conviction of any felony or willful and flagrant neglect of duty.
• Statesville, population 25,044
Larry Pressley has served at the pleasure of the Statesville City Council since 2013 and earns $134,500.
If Pressley leaves, he would get a six-month severance paid monthly until he found a new job. If Pressley’s new position paid less, the city would make up the difference for the remainder of the severance.
His severance includes accrued vacation leave, no sick time or holidays. Statesville council members can fire Pressley for an indictment or conviction or a felony or misdemeanor other than a traffic violation and can suspend him with or without pay at any time for cause.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.
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