October 16, 2021

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It Is What You Do

‘Unusual’ contract provision earned previous Montrose County supervisor payout just after resignation

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A stipulation in his personnel deal allowed former Montrose County Manager Ken Norris to receive a considerable severance package, regardless of resigning his position, and to take within just days one more, higher-having to pay county job as director of services and building administration, a place that was posted for about 25 hours and to which Norris was an speedy and sole applicant, interviews and documents acquired by Newsline reveal.

As Newsline earlier claimed, Norris obtained a severance bundle of around $140,000 from the county just after he turned in his resignation June 3. On June 7, county commissioners employed Norris as director of services and design management, which pays $5,000 far more a yr than his former wage of about $120,000.

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Technically the county manager is entitled to a severance offer truly worth a year’s pay out moreover positive aspects only if he or she is terminated. Though the mother nature of Norris’ departure seems to drop less than the definition of termination in his deal, commissioners have not verbally named Norris’ leaving a termination. As an alternative, they have referred to the nonrenewal of Norris’ contract as a “mutually agreed” final decision.

When Montrose County Commissioner Keith Caddy was asked if it seemed abnormal for a person to acquire a severance below these conditions, he mentioned, “I’m not an attorney, but sure, I imagine it’s strange.”

However, “That’s the way his contract was prepared. We honored the agreement,” Caddy explained.

The 2016 agreement concerning the county and Norris states that a severance shall be compensated to Norris if employment is terminated as defined in the deal. Among the other situations, the document defines a “termination” as occurring when the “Manager resigns adhering to an offer you to accept resignation by County.”

On June 3, Norris submitted a letter to the board of commissioners that reported in element, “I fully grasp that the County is producing an supply to acknowledge my resignation, and thus I tender my resignation helpful as of shut of small business day on June 3, 2021.”

Norris utilized for the situation of director of facilities and development administration that very same day.

David White served on the board of county commissioners when Norris’ worker deal was composed. He mentioned the agreement integrated the previously mentioned-talked about resignation clause for the reason that “the labor market place for these types of careers at the time was dismal.”

He included that county commissioners ought to be revisiting personnel contracts on an annual basis, and that it is “unfair” for Caddy to position the responsibility for Norris’ generous payout on the prior board.

“At a least they ought to have revisited that agreement,” White claimed. “They structured a deal with Ken Norris — he didn’t want to go.”

White declined to recognize the resource of that data. “You want to communicate to Ken Norris,” White said.

Norris did not respond to telephone or text messages requesting comment.

Commissioners questioned Norris to resign from his county supervisor career due to the fact of his knowledge as an engineer and staying services director was a “better fit” — and Norris agreed — Caddy claimed.

Montrose County has a number of huge projects coming up involving the community airport, jail and courthouse and “it was important to have an engineer to oversee these assignments total time,” Caddy reported. “That’s why he was moved back again (to amenities director). He’s an wonderful engineer.”

Norris has labored for Montrose County considering that 2010. He served 3 several years as facilities director prior to staying appointed to county supervisor in 2014. He continued to keep the title of amenities director through his tenure as county manager.

When requested final month how Norris could execute two jobs at the identical time, county spokeswoman Katie Yergensen reported, “We have a potent employees in this article. They had been dealing with a ton of these duties.”

Condition statute demanded the county to post the director of amenities and development management work opening. The county did so internally for about 25 hrs. Norris submitted his application 8 minutes right after the position was posted on June 3, according to county e-mails received by Newsline.

“Nobody else had used by the time it closed,” Caddy reported.

White questioned why they would enable anyone to resign and then pay back them out — as if they were being terminated.

“Ken Norris’ phony resignation did not entitle him to a year’s severance,” White stated. “Only a termination would entitle him to a year’s severance.

“(The commissioners) need to fess up and say, ‘Yes, we terminated him,’” White said. “I’m perplexed they acquired away with it.”