Council to pay Loughry $34,000 in severance
City administrator firing
Previous Sentinel coverage of the Basehor City Council's dismissal of Mark Loughry and ensuing events:
Nov. 14: New recall petition targets mayor
About six weeks after canceling a $50,000 severance payment to former city administrator Mark Loughry, the Basehor City Council on Monday voted to give Loughry a severance check after all — but for about $16,000 less.
The council approved, by a 3-2 vote, a severance payment of $34,097 for Loughry, to be paid immediately. Members Fred Box and Iris Dysart voted against the payment.
That amount did not include the value of unused paid time off that Loughry had accrued but not used at the time he was fired in September. The check canceled by the council in October, which had been authorized by Mayor Terry Hill, included Loughry's unused vacation time. That payment totaled $50,179.
The vote followed two 15-minute executive sessions, into which the council entered with City Attorney Shannon Marcano, citing attorney-client privilege.
Hill said after the meeting that he'd been concerned the city had been putting itself at risk by not paying the severance that was provided for in Loughry's employment contract, citing a state law that says employers can be liable for unpaid wages in the amount of 1 percent of those wages for each day they go unpaid. He wanted the council to understand that risk, he said.
“I put this on the agenda to call their attention to the fact they're increasing the liability by give-or-take $500 per day,” Hill said.
Council President Dennis Mertz, who in October called the special meeting where the council voided Loughry's previous severance payment, voted for the lower payment this time. He said after the council meeting Monday that he could not comment on the reason for his vote, because it was a matter discussed in executive session.
In October, Mertz said the city should wait to pay Loughry's severance until it had made a separation agreement with him, protecting the city from a lawsuit or claims for additional payment. Since then, Loughry and the city have not made such an agreement.
During the meeting, Mertz asked Marcano to review whether Loughry would be entitled to the paid time off that he had accrued, saying the city's personnel policy states any employee who is terminated cannot be paid for accrued paid time off.
Hill said after the meeting that whether Loughry receives that pay will depend on Marcano's decision.
“He should be paid what he's owed,” Hill said.
Loughry's employment contract spelled out a severance package, increasing with each year of employment with the city, that he was to be paid unless he was fired after being charged with an illegal act. Because he had worked for the city for just more than two years, his severance package was to consist of eight two-week pay periods' worth of pay and benefits plus the value of any unused vacation time.
Also at Monday's city council meeting:
• The city council gave the final nod to a 95 percent property tax rebate for Orscheln Farm and Home's planned new store in the former Wolf Creek Marketplace building in Basehor, with a 5-0 vote approving an economic development agreement and an accompanying ordinance.
Interim city administrator Lloyd Martley said the company should open the store sometime in spring 2012.
Martley said the city and Orscheln had agreed on the agreement's terms late this past Friday night.
• The council awarded, 5-0, a $15,000 grant to the Falcon Lakes Homeowners Association to go toward a new playground, with two stipulations: that the city be covered under the association's liability insurance on the playground, and that the deed to the property restrict its use so that it must remain a park.
Marcano told the council members that for the city to legally grant funding toward the playground, it would have to be guaranteed that it would be open to the general public. A letter from the homeowners association to the city earlier this month said that it would be open to all Basehor residents.
• The council declined to make a motion to approve a proposed resolution that would have added Community National Bank as a designated depository for city funds, in addition to First State Bank and Trust.
Hill said the city had never had any problems with First State Bank, its longtime depository, but adding an additional bank would allow for more liquidity in case of an emergency.
• As part of the consent agenda, the council approved, 5-0, a number of measures. The vote accepted the lowest bids for electrical upgrades at Basehor City Park, for $1,800 from Westland Construction to install bore and $4,576 from Elite Electric to perform the upgrades; approved an operating agreement with Basehor PRIDE for its planned Basehor Community Garden at the city park; approved a new 457(b) retirement plan election form for city employees; renewed the contract between the city and the Kansas Department of Transportation for the Special Traffic Enforcement Program; approved the use of the Collection Bureau of Kansas by the police department to collect unpaid fines; and approved a $10,575 bid from Land Company Real Estate Services, Inc., for land acquisition services for the extension of Wolf Creek Parkway.