Monday, October 8, 2012
Flower Mound town manager fired, given nearly 2 years severance pay
He received an annual salary of about $188,000.
FLOWER MOUND After weeks of speculation, the Flower Mound Town Council unanimously voted to fire Town Manager Harlan Jefferson on Monday in a special meeting.
Jefferson, who has been the town manager since 2006, was placed on paid administrative leave September 22 during a special meeting. His contract was set to expire in October 2015.
Chuck Springer, the town’s chief financial officer and assistant town manager, will remain the interim town manager until a permanent one is found.
Jefferson was not at Monday's meeting.
Jefferson will receive 22 months severance per the terms of his contract, though an exact figure was not disclosed.
According to his contract, Jefferson made an annual salary of $187,995. The contract states that if Jefferson is involuntarily terminated, he would be entitled to a severance equal to the total base salary, as well as "all accrued leave and town benefits, including but not limited to health insurance, vacation leave, sick leave and exempt leave."
The money will come from the town's general fund, which Mayor Tom Hayden said currently sits at $9.6 million.
"I expect that a year from now, it will be higher than what it is today," Hayden said of the general fund. "This won't have any meaningful impact on the town's finances."
Hayden said that at Jefferson's request, the town has agreed to a mutual confidentiality provision as part of the formal settlement.
Hayden did read from a prepared statement, stating, "A search for a permanent town manager will begin immediately and will be focused on transforming the town’s municipal government into a customer centric organization for the benefit of the residents and business owners in Flower Mound."
While Hayden would not elaborate Monday on reasons for the council's action, he did address the situation at the October 1 council meeting.
"The council wants to make sure that we feel like we're in the situation where we can move forward and put Flower Mound in the best place to achieve our goals and objectives," Hayden said at the meeting.
Later that week and before Monday's vote, Hayden discussed a new direction.
“There was a message that we came forward with when we ran for office, and that message was overwhelmingly accepted,” Hayden told The Leader last week. “We want a new way of doing things. There is a spirit of cooperation that the council didn’t feel like is entirely there.”
At the September 22 meeting, Jefferson's attorney, Don Colleluori, said Jefferson understands that it is the council’s right to terminate his contract, but he said Jefferson had not been given the opportunity to address any concerns the council had of him.
Since then, sources have refuted that claim, citing several instances when Jefferson was aware of concerns. Among those were discussions at the town council strategic planning session and a council work session following the election in which the council outlined goals and discussed a desire to change the town’s direction in certain areas, including the working relationship the town has with developers.
Colleluori also acknowledged the developer surveys in which area developers gave low marks to the town’s processes. But Colleluori said those processes are set by the council and that the town manager only enforces those.
Others, however, have said the town manager has the right to make exceptions to help in the development process and that Jefferson did not.
When asked last week if he agrees with Colleluori's sentiment, Hayden pointed to the October 1 meeting when David Watson of Direct Development discussed the issues his firm has had with the town when working on Cross Timbers Village.
The development, located near the intersection of FM 1171 and Bruton Orand Boulevard, will include Tom Thumb, as well as two other buildings.
Per the development agreement, landscaping was required to be installed around the property's perimeter before a certificate of occupancy would be approved.
Watson said his firm requested that the landscaping around the two buildings be allowed to be installed after the construction of the buildings since it would have to be torn up anyway during construction.
Watson said the town staff denied that request, causing a delay in the project and adding extra cost.
"It would have been typical, to say the least, for any other community to accommodate a request like this," Watson said. "You would have liked to have established good will to allow the town to say, 'We know you're good for it.' But that's not what you feel here at all. It's more antagonistic."
Watson also said his firm had to pull 33 permits for this project, noting that a similar project in Wylie has only required one permit.
Watson also said the town required signatures from the owners of all property the construction crew had been on to verify that they left the property in good condition. Watson said that was a last-minute surprise and another hassle.
Hayden said there have been several other instances in Flower Mound recently similar to what Watson described.
Hayden said the search for a permanent town manager will begin immediately.
"In the meantime, we have confidence in Chuck Springer," Hayden said. "He has a number of years with the town, and we know he'll do a fine job."
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