Public contract discussion, and delay a wise move

First Posted: 12/29/2008

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners opted on Monday to again delay a final decision on the renewal of City Manager Don Brookshires contract.
The three-year agreement expires March 31, and has a provision that calls for the pact to automatically renew for another year if the commissioners dont give a notice, at least 90 days prior to the contract expiration, they intend not to renew the agreement.
However, on Monday both sides agreed to waive that 90-day notice, instead setting the deadline for any sort of change in the contract 60 days in advance of March 31.
First, kudos to the commissioners for having all of Mondays discussion in public. Consideration of the contract, according to most of the commissioners, have never been about Brookshires performance. Specific, directed comments about his job performance would, of course, be appropriately discussed in closed session.
The talks have been about the severance package, or what might be more aptly termed a golden parachute, for the city manager should the commissioners opt to end his city employment prematurely.
That golden parachute obligates the city to pay the city manager a years salary in addition to accrued vacation and sick leave, as well as his medical insurance, among other benefits.
As the deadline for renewal of the pact neared, several commissioners voiced the idea that the discussion on the severance package should be carried out in public, and we agreed. Though Mayor Jack Loftis at first was insistent the talks be held in closed session, we are pleased he has relented at least in part, and allowed Mondays meeting to be open to the public.
We encourage the mayor and all the commissioners to take a similar approach in January, when the board will next discuss the contract. The talks should continue to be part of the public record.
Second, the move to delay the final decision was prudent, given what seems to be some disagreement on that contract among the commissioners. Rather than rush to make a judgment the commissioners and Brookshire have all agreed to allow up to another 30 days for a final decision to be reached. This agreement is important for the taxpayers of the city, as well as the city manager, and taking a couple of more weeks to get the right decision is certainly worth the delay

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