Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner City Council accepted the resignation of city administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee at their Sept. 17 meeting. Laura Gourley, finance director, was appointed as interim administrator.
The council recessed into closed session for 30 minutes, returned to regular session and unanimously accepted Harrison-Lee’s termination agreement.
In details outlined in a separation agreement, the city agreed to pay Harrison-Lee up to $350,000. Harrison-Lee’s annual salary was $161,000.
The agreement which brings to an end a months’ long saga at city hall, saw the city part with $261,583. 83 in severance pay, $85,931.17 in vacation hours and $2,500 in exchange for a waiver of any claims she may have under the age discrimination in employment act.
“The employee acknowledges the mutual promises and covenants of the parties and based upon those considerations does hereby release, acquit and forever discharge the city and its agents, elected officials, representatives and employees from any and all rights, claims, demands and damages of any kind, known or unknown, of employee in any way related to her employment.”
The agreement also says that Harrison-Lee agrees to withdraw any complaints of harassment or discrimination and that she will not pursue such complaints either with the Kansas Human Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or any other administrative agency with jurisdiction over any such claims.
The motion to approve the agreement was proposed by Lee Moore, president, and seconded by Rich Melton, council vice president. The motion passed unanimously.
The city will however honor air tickets, registration fees and lodging expenses for attendance at the ICMA conference, the largest annual event of city managers and staff, where Harrison-Lee will accept a prestigious award for her work at Gardner. The conference will be held in Baltimore on Sept. 23-26.