After nearly two hours of discussion and citizens' comments, Red Bank city commissioners approved an amended separation agreement with former City Manager Tim Thornbury at their May 18 meeting.
Under the new agreement, Thornbury's duties as city manager will cease and he will provide services as a commercial building inspector and other services as needed for the interim or new city manager. Those services would include assistance with the city's 2021-2022 budget and will end March 31, 2022.
Thornbury will receive 10 months' salary, as well as health insurance, vehicle allowance and accrued vacation and sick leave through Oct. 31, 2021. In the proposed termination agreement the commission voted upon April 26, Thornbury would have received those benefits through March 31, 2021.
Last month, Thornbury submitted a resignation letter along with a separation agreement in which he proposed continuing on an as-needed basis his duties as building inspector, public works director and city manager, as well as serving as a consultant to the interim city manager or new city manager, until next March.
For those services he proposed 10 months' salary as well as health insurance, vehicle allowance, and accrued vacation and sick leave.
A majority of commissioners voted to accept that agreement at a special-called meeting April 26, but the vote was determined to be invalid because the city did not have proper representation.
Mayor Hollie Berry and Vice Mayor Stefanie Dalton were the only commissioners who voted against accepting the agreement April 26 as well as the amended agreement May 18.
Dalton said the position created for Thornbury under the new agreement is not a full-time position, and that part-time employees are not entitled to benefits such as insurance under the city's personnel policy.
"One of the primary concerns with us formulating this amendment to the agreement is that it complies with our personnel policy and our charter," Dalton said.
She said she feels it makes sense for Thornbury to step back into the full-time role of public works director for the next 10 months to help with the public works projects that require his assistance.
"I would be amenable to him continuing at the salary that he is currently receiving as city manager," Dalton said of the compensation she would find appropriate if Thornbury were to return to the role of public works director.
Berry said she feels Thornbury should be compensated for his consulting services on an hourly basis, as the city has compensated other longtime employees for providing such services.
"You have a contractual obligation that you've entered into with Mr. Thornbury in 2018 in order to induce him to take a job that is fraught with peril," Sam Elliott, who represents Thornbury, said to the commission.
He said the fact that Dalton and Berry met with Chris Dorsey, former Red Bank city manager until his termination in 2011, prior to their election as commissioners is evidence of that peril. Elliott also cited the recent termination of Janice Cagle, longtime city manager of Soddy-Daisy, and the recent resignation of former Collegedale City Manager Ted Rogers, as further evidence of the lack of job security city managers face when new members are elected to a board.
Elliott is the attorney for both Soddy-Daisy and Collegedale.
Contact Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6508.