The exact cost of Cheryl Harrison-Lee’s separation from Gardner as city administrator is difficult to determine.
Gardner’s taxpayers will pay at least $350,000. That’s the amount of the stated first payment on her separation agreement. Harrison-Lee’s employment contract was for $161,000 annually. Harrison-Lee, who resigned Sept. 10 after about a three week absence from city hall, at first, had indicated a willingness to continue her employment with the city; however, she has not made a statement since her resignation. Under the separation agreement there will also be additional payments – for 20 percent of her accrued, unused sick leave, as referenced by the employee’s handbook for separation for employees in good standing. A Kansas Open Records request inquiring as to the exact amount of the sick leave buy-out was not answered, with city officials saying it is not an open record.
If sick leave is based on annual salary, it would be about $600 per day, or $7,200 per year, based on one sick day per month, if only one year were paid.
Harrison-Lee is also entitled to 18 months of COBRA, which the city also declined to disclose the amount, stating it is not a public record.
All payments to Harrison-Lee will come from the city’s general fund. According to Gardner officials, the city’s liability insurance did not contribute any funds. All employee compensation comes from the general fund, although there doesn’t appear to be a placeholder in the recently approved budget for the increased payout.
When asked if funds are available for the increased payout due to the separation agreement or if other projects would have to be put on hold, there was no response. This year Gardner increased their mill levy despite increased property valuation.
When asked the name of the attorney who drafted the agreement, officials only said “legal counsel for the parties.” When asked if it was drafted by Ryan Denk, city attorney, Gardner Public Information Officer, Daneeka Marshall Oquendo did not respond.
Also under the separation agreement, Harrison-Lee’s lodging and airfare to the September 2018 ICMA conference will be paid by Gardner taxpayers. Under Harrison-Lee’s tenure, Gardner won several awards, including the ICMA award.
The city was required to issue a positive press release, which they did Sept. 14, and to refrain from commenting on her employment in a public forum, including social media. In return, Harrison-Lee will withdraw or obtain a dismissal of any complaint that may be filed with either the KHRC or EEOC.

The exact cost of Cheryl Harrison-Lee’s separation from Gardner as city administrator is difficult to determine.
Gardner’s taxpayers will pay at least $350,000. That’s the amount of the stated first payment on her separation agreement. Harrison-Lee’s employment contract was for $161,000 annually. Harrison-Lee, who resigned Sept. 10 after about a three week absence from city hall, at first, had indicated a willingness to continue her employment with the city; however, she has not made a statement since her resignation. Under the separation agreement there will also be additional payments – for 20 percent of her accrued, unused sick leave, as referenced by the employee’s handbook for separation for employees in good standing. A Kansas Open Records request inquiring as to the exact amount of the sick leave buy-out was not answered, with city officials saying it is not an open record.
If sick leave is based on annual salary, it would be about $600 per day, or $7,200 per year, based on one sick day per month, if only one year were paid.
Harrison-Lee is also entitled to 18 months of COBRA, which the city also declined to disclose the amount, stating it is not a public record.
All payments to Harrison-Lee will come from the city’s general fund. According to Gardner officials, the city’s liability insurance did not contribute any funds. All employee compensation comes from the general fund, although there doesn’t appear to be a placeholder in the recently approved budget for the increased payout.
When asked if funds are available for the increased payout due to the separation agreement or if other projects would have to be put on hold, there was no response. This year Gardner increased their mill levy despite increased property valuation.
When asked the name of the attorney who drafted the See BUYOUT, page 8
From BUYOUT, page 1
agreement, officials only said “legal counsel for the parties.” When asked if it was drafted by Ryan Denk, city attorney, Gardner Public Information Officer, Daneeka Marshall Oquendo did not respond.
Also under the separation agreement, Harrison-Lee’s lodging and airfare to the September 2018 ICMA conference will be paid by Gardner taxpayers. Under Harrison-Lee’s tenure, Gardner won several awards, including the ICMA award.
The city was required to issue a positive press release, which they did Sept. 14, and to refrain from commenting on her employment in a public forum, including social media. In return, Harrison-Lee will withdraw or obtain a dismissal of any complaint that may be filed with either the KHRC or EEOC.