Archive for Wednesday, October 5, 2011

City council voids $50,000 severance check to Loughry

Basehor City Hall is at 2620 N. 155th St.

Basehor City Hall is at 2620 N. 155th St.

October 5, 2011, 4:11 p.m.

Updated: October 6, 2011, 1:11 p.m.

Mark Loughry

Mark Loughry

City administrator firing

Previous Sentinel coverage of the Basehor City Council's dismissal of Mark Loughry:

Sept. 19: Basehor City Council votes to fire administrator Loughry

Sept. 21: Vote sparks shock, questions at City Hall

Sept. 22: Loughry to clean out office; police chief asked to fill in

Sept. 27: Allegations, benefit questions preceded firing

The Basehor City Council voted, 5-0, at a special meeting Wednesday afternoon to void a severance check for former city administrator Mark Loughry for more than $50,000 that Mayor Terry Hill approved without a council vote.

With the vote, the council also directed City Attorney Shannon Marcano to draft a separation agreement for Loughry, stipulating that any money paid to Loughry would need to be approved by the council beforehand.

The vote also approved a final regular paycheck to be given to Loughry, in a gross amount of about $3,700.

City Council President Dennis Mertz made the motion following a 10-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel.

Mertz said after the meeting that the council had acted so that any severance payment would be part of a legal agreement with Loughry, protecting the city from any claims for additional payment or a lawsuit.

“I think the meeting today was the start of making a clean break,” Mertz said.

Hill, who was absent from the meeting because he was working, this week approved a gross severance payment of $50,179.20 for Loughry. Hill said he was obligated to order the payment because a severance package was provided for in Loughry's contract, which was approved by the city council in 2009.

Marcano had suggested to the council members that they meet in executive session at Monday's council work session to discuss Loughry's severance and a possible separation agreement, Hill said. When no council member called for such a session, Hill ordered the severance payment to go through in time for the city's next pay period, based on advice from Marcano that the council had already approved the severance package as part of Loughry's contract, Hill said.

“Nobody did anything, and so I'm pretty much obligated to follow his contract,” Hill said.

Mertz acknowledged that Marcano had recommended an executive session to discuss Loughry's separation before Monday's work session, but he said he expected her to specifically request one during the session.

Mertz said he did not know that Hill had approved the severance payment for Loughry until Wednesday morning, when he asked city staff about Loughry's status. He called for a special council meeting later that day so the payment could be voided in time, he said.

Mertz said the mayor should have told the council members about the payment. He also said that when the city had dismissed appointed officials in the past, the city council had not needed to specifically request a separation agreement to be written; the mayor and city attorney had brought an agreement to the council without prompting.

“Those came automatically,” Mertz said.

Prior to signing his contract in 2009, Loughry made sure to include a guaranteed severance package in case of a dispute, Hill said. He said he had doubts that Loughry would agree to any separation deal with the city unless the agreement granted him a severance payment well above what his contract spelled out.

“What is in it for him?” Hill said.

Loughry's contract states that as long as he has not been charged with an illegal act, then he must be given a severance package. The package was to increase on each anniversary of Loughry's employment. Because he passed his second anniversary of employment in August, he should be paid eight pay periods' worth of salary and benefits, plus the value of any unused vacation time, according to the contract. According to a city payroll record, that amount added up to $50,179.20.

1:10 p.m. update

Loughry told the Sentinel this afternoon that he declined to make any further public comments, based on advice from his attorney.

Comments

FifthDegreeInSight 2 years, 6 months ago

Wow! The mayor authorized this without getting a legal release from the former administrator. What's up with that?

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johninbasehor 2 years, 6 months ago

The ex city manager has that severance money coming, according to his contract. He doesn't need to sign a legal release according to the contract. After dragging Mr. Loughry's name through the gutter and ruining his reputation with accusations of theft, if the council thinks he will sign a legal release, aren't they in fact forcing him to sue?

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KSman57 2 years, 6 months ago

Has it been proven that there were no criminal actions?

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Talisman 2 years, 6 months ago

KSman57: Has it been proven there WERE criminal actions? Of course not, nor will there be!

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KSman57 2 years, 6 months ago

No one can answer that definitively.

Did Mayor Hill consult the City Attorney before blessing this $50K payout?

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babetwo 2 years, 6 months ago

The mayor was exercising his duty to the city by executing the terms of the contract.with the city administrator. Failure to do so is a breach of contract which could result in an expensive lawsuit. No council approval is needed to fulllfill previously approved contract language. The city administrator's contract had been approved by a vote of 5 to 0. His reappointment this spring was approved by council 5 to 0. A surprise unexplained termination does not void the severance language in the contract. Quite the opposite....the severance language was in the contract to protect the city administrator from a blindside termination. He is under no obligation to negotiate terms of a severance package. It is clearly defined in his contract. The mayor was fulllfilling the responsibility of his office. You should request a copy of the contract and READ IT!!!!

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babetwo 2 years, 6 months ago

By the way Mr. Washington I would think you already knew this.

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guesswho66007 2 years, 6 months ago

By the way "babetwo", hacking is illegal.

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guesswho66007 2 years, 6 months ago

Dear "babetwo", a.k.a. Mrs. Mayor,

Although it's expected you would stand by your man regarding his actions, don't you think before a check for over $50,000.00 is issued, the council, who by law runs the city, and works in the best interest of the city, should have at least been consulted? Just asking.

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basehordream 2 years, 6 months ago

"You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." - President Abraham Lincoln

I see criminally negligent behavior here on the part of the Mayor. Wow, really, no consult with the council? Dumb move Mayor. Get out of our city now!

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babetwo 2 years, 6 months ago

guesswho66007: Wrong again.............although I am told Mrs. Mayor is a long term citizen of the city of Basehor who wants what is best for ALL citizens, not just your little group.

basehordream: "Some people are just fools all of the time..................and those fools are the fools who are going to cost Basehor a very large sum of money. Each time Mertz opens his mouth the lawsuit grows by thousands more! You should be very careful of the accusations you make.........................you may not like the taste of crow. Grow up!!!

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guesswho66007 2 years, 6 months ago

My guess is, however, as with all things political we the citizens may never really know, there are probably more unauthorized actions of the Loughry. Hopefully, we the citizens, will eventually know everything that brought about the firing of Loughry. For an individual to take actions as bold as he did, regarding the modification of his contract, there is a process that one takes psychologically. I am hopeful the council will release all wrongdoing of Loughry at some point.

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basehordream 2 years, 6 months ago

guesswho66007: Oh yes, the Harnden kids. They have been here for a while. You might have hit a nerve with that poke.

babe2: Those of us residents who regularly attend council meetings were incredulous when we learned that the Mayor offered to pay over $50,000 without getting a separation agreement. What makes the Mayor think that Mr. Loughry does not have to sign a separation agreement when Ms. Mogle, Mr. Slaugh and Mr. Smith all had to sign one to protect the city? What is his cut?

All 5 of the council members are to be commended for their turn-around in acting decisively and united in protecting the city. As word has gotten out those of us who did not know about the wrong doing now know enough to thank you.

Residents are not aware of all the complexities of the firing and that council has been elected to make those decisions. Good job council for coming together to stop the nonsense. I still cannot fathom as to why the Mayor is protecting Mr. Loughry.

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johninbasehor 2 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Loughry did not deserve to be fired for the reason given. He could have been given 10 days notice as per his contact signed by the city, to face his accusers and to try to reach a reasonable remedy for all. Instead, he was called a thief in public and fired without a chance to defend himself. His contract was further ignored as to his being paid his agreed severance. Isn't it ironic that Mr. Mertz turned against Mr Loughry when Mr. Loughry tried to defend city employees from taking a big hit on their health insurance that Mr. Mertz pushed? The city council votes to spend over a million dollars for a fancy road that will never be used in our lifetime, but votes to cut the benefits of it's loyal city employees so it can build a new city hall.

By the way, Mr. Mertz told the Sentinel he would offer several other reasons for Mr. Loughrys firing, but either Mr. Mertz or the Sentinel has not come forth with those reasons in the latest print of that paper. Are we recanting promises that we have made in the media?

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Dennis Mertz 2 years, 6 months ago

For the most part;

Sales Tax = Road work and new city hall Personal Property Tax = Salaries and benefits

In 1995 the citizens held an election to generate revenue by adding an additional 1/2% sales tax. It reads "All revenues received hereunder shall be deposited in said fund, and shall be used only for the purpose of funding projects that will build, improve or maintain the infrastructure of the City."

We cannot use the additional sales tax to help pay benefits. Is was a hard pill to swallow to use the other 1/2% for the first time in 2010 to pay for salaries and benefits. But this action kept the mill levy down.

I hope this simplifies the funds spent.

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KSman57 2 years, 6 months ago

Finally, the Sentinel has a copy of the employment contract in question. The handwritten "clarification" in section 11 only has 2 sets of initials, not that of the entire council. It appears that any additions or corrections, no matter how small, must be brought before the council. See comment from previous article below. Also, read section 17 of the contract concerning modification of the agreement.

Kim Winn, deputy director of the League of Kansas Municipalities, said a city government generally would need to revise a contract through the same means by which it adopted the contract. That is, if the contract were adopted by a council vote — as Loughry’s was —any revisions would require a council vote as well.

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Ronald Grover 2 years, 6 months ago

It's time to drop all the bickering back and forth. The Loughry issue is down the tracks. It makes no sense arguing over he said she said on here. Resolution now comes through negotiation or court order. That's the choice of the city and Mr. Loughry.

Employment agreements are legally binding contracts, regardless if they are in the public or private sector. If there was a severance clause in his employment agreement then Loughry is owed the terms of that agreement, the role of the mayor and city council is approval of the expenditure during normal monthly approval of business. If there were violations of the terms of the employment agreement; shame on the administration. My experience in terminations is that mistakes cost money. Get out your checkbook and minimize the damages.

After 25 years in human resource management with the current title of Director of HR for a KC manufacturing company I am pretty well versed on the subject and procedures of termination, with or without cause.

The solution to this issue is that if we have council persons or a mayor not qualified in administration of their responsibilities and they are flying from the seat of their pants or worse yet, "doing the best they can" the resolution takes place at the next election. Maybe as interested citizens we should do more to recruit WELL QUALIFIED candidates and stop basing our votes upon the "good ole guy" or popularity method of selection.

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kbrown 2 years, 6 months ago

Rong,

I agree.

Out of curiousity's sake, I have a question for each member of City Council and the Mayor.

How many of you attended the Municipal Leadership Academy sponsored by the Kansas League of Municipalities:

http://www.lkm.org/training/mla/

(Levels I, II, III)?

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Dennis Mertz 2 years, 6 months ago

kbrown, I have taken several credit classes through LKM, some through the Attorney General and I have attended every Governing body conference which has round table classes over 3 days.

I am unaware if anyone else has taken any LKM classes.

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kbrown 2 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for responding Dennis. I await replies from the other members.

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Thinkaboutit 2 years, 6 months ago

If Loughry deserved to be fired then I am glad it was done. I do wish that council/Mertz could have waited ten days and not broken Mr. Loughry's contract, but that would mean that Mertz and his two groupies would have to be facing Loughry to fire him instead firing him while on vacation. After all, the last time they had a vote concerning Loughry and he was present, all 5 members voted to keep him. I am sure this is going to cost us all some money in a city with already high taxes. From what I have heard and read, Mertz did have some other reasons such as criminal activity but that was found to be untrue and Mr. Loughry was not charged with any crimes. Guess it's kinda our fault for allowing Mr. Mertz to get a council seat unopposed!

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johninbasehor 2 years, 6 months ago

I see Dennis Mertz has joined Holy Angels Church. Dennis is trying to get some religion after he ruined a man and his family's life with false charges. Time to try out the confessional?

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johninbasehor 2 years, 6 months ago

I see Dennis Mertz has joined Holy Angels Church. Dennis is trying to get some religion after he ruined a man and his family's life with false charges. Time to try out the confessional?

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Dennis Mertz 2 years, 6 months ago

JGREEN1515 I have been going to Holy Angels for some time. I have been Catholic for about 30 years. After several years at Holy Angels I finally moved my membership. Nothing new.

Church has nothing to do with this.

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Dennis Mertz 2 years, 6 months ago

Loughry had brought forward a pay raise and an increased benefit change for himself the same night. He did not send out any notice that he was on vacation and I was under the impression that he was going to be there to present his own contract change. We only hold regular meetings once a month and he is suppose to be there.

I have no comment on the current investigation.

I will have to respectfully disagree with your analysis on this.

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