PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - City council has accepted Portsmouth City Manager Ken Chandler's resignation. He will be receiving nearly $200,000 in severance.
Chandler offered his resignation because he refused to put in writing what he told city council members Monday night on the circumstances surrounding the re-hiring of former Fire Chief Don Horton. Chandler's resignation was accepted by city council members in a closed door executive session Tuesday evening.
Per Chandler's agreement with the city when he signed on as Portsmouth City Manager in July 2007, he will be receiving $191,200 in severance which breaks down as follows, according to a source.
- $164,000 salary
- $14,000 deferred
- $9,600 car allowance
- $3,600 expenses
Horton had resigned in July only to be named the new deputy director of emergency management a couple months later. Horton was paid with the Family and Medical Leave Act through October, although he did not spell out any medical issues regarding himself or his family in his resignation email .
During a city council workshop session Tuesday evening, Chandler spoke about the Horton confusion.
"[Horton] did make contact with me and did express interest in possibly returning to the organization," Chandler said.
Chandler said Horton said that to him while he was on Family and Medical Leave, even though Horton did in fact resign.
Chandler went on to say that he did not put Horton back in his position as fire chief because he thought Interim Fire Chief Beck Barfield was doing a good job.
"We noticed a great deal of camaraderie. When Barfield returned, there was a boost in morale," Chandler said.
Chandler then went on to talk about Horton being hired as the city's deputy director of emergency management with an annual salary of $98,000, a position city council members said was not in the budget. Confusion continued when Horton's position was then referred to as deputy fire chief.
"The working title is currently the classification in the comp plan as deputy chief, but the working title was deputy director of emergency management," Chandler said.
In essence, the positions were the same, but Chandler failed to explained this to city council. However, councilman Bill Moody, an outspoken critic of the entire Horton debacle, says he is not sold on Chandler's explanation.
"No, I did not [buy it]," Moody said.
Mayor Kenny Wright referred to Chandler's five years of service to the city as productive.
"We have a lot of things to be thankful for and what he's done... the courthouse, our financial rating and all of those other great things," Wright said.
Chandler refused to comment multiple times Tuesday evening.
Portsmouth residents came out in droves Tuesday night, overwhelmingly supporting Moody and voiced their disdain for the $191,200 Chandler will receive in severance.
"That's tax dollars coming out of our pockets and giving it to him," Portsmouth resident James Brady said. "He isn't working or nothing."
"It's bananas," added resident Jay Morgan. "It was my money, but now it's his money."
Current deputy city manager J. Brannon Godfrey, Jr. will take over for Chandler in the interim and will be sworn in Wednesday. Godfrey has worked for the city since 2009. Godfrey previously held a position of city manager in Emporia, Va. and Winchester, Va.
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