It’s been like the commissions going away gift to department directors who leave.
“I’ve always seen, people walk away with a nice fat check, that always kind of bothered me,” says Commissioner Andrew Jefferson.
Former Planning Director Melanie Wilson recently resigned to take a new job in Savannah and she took with her four year’s severance pay.
Two years ago Fire Chief Chris James stepped down for a job in south Carolina and got four months severance pay.
Last year Mark Johnson resigned under pressure after city equipment turned up in Lincoln County, and he got three months pay.
“We’re here today to address those issues and try to reel that in moving forward,” says Commissioner Ben Hasan.
A commission subcommittee is taking on severance pay for those who leave on their own.
Right now department directors can earn up to six months severance pay when they leave for a new job.
“Have we’ve been too generous in the past?
“Absolutely we have there’s been several situations that we should have done nothing, based on some infractions that have been done against the government but we still compensated them that was unfair to the taxpayer,” says Commissioner Ben Hasan.
“It’s almost like it’s an entitlement and I feel basically the severance pay has gotten our of hand,” said Commissioner Jefferson.
The subcommittee directed the administrator to draft a new policy on severance pay but there are concerns you don’t want to hurt efforts in recruiting new department directors.
How do we implement in a way does help us saying we are an employer who gives good benefits but as the same time does not take advantage of the situation by just giving money away, I think we have to find a happy medium between those two things,” says City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson.
The administrator’s draft is expected back next month.
But any new policy will take a while before being implemented.
Existing department heads would be grandfathered in, and those with six or more years on the job, who leave on their own, will still be eligible to collect a half-year’s pay.
Correction of earlier version: Chief James was approved for four months severance pay but did not receive the money because the job offer he got was rescinded