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Sat, Feb. 29

Beecher's severance less than anticipated

KINGMAN - Had he not put his John Hancock on a severance for an out-going employee without telling City Council, Paul Beecher likely would have raked in another $30,000 in unused sick leave on top of what amounted to $178,616 in severance.

The 427 hours he accrued in sick leave since taking the city manager position in January 2005 would have been tagged onto his year's salary - at $149,148 - and another 156 hours of vacation leave he accrued in his two-and-a-half years as Kingman's top administrator.

Instead, the city signed over a check Wednesday for $178,616, about $25,000 lower than original projections for Beecher's severance.

According to Beecher's employment contract, the city agreed to provide 20 days per year for vacation and 12 days per year for sick leave. Upon initial employment, Beecher also received a 30-day bank for vacation and 30 days for sick leave.

After the smoke cleared following Beecher's termination Aug. 10, Human Resources Director Jackie Walker and City Attorney Carl Cooper combed through the contract to figure out exactly how much Beecher was entitled to receive.

With the 60-day dump and accumulation over two years and seven months, Beecher was eligible to cash in on his 156 hours of vacation time. He'd actually accumulated more than 600 hours in vacation alone, but he took off 325 hours - or about 40 work days. Another 133 hours he donated to other employees, according to city records.

The vacation time was up to 467.54 hours, with 40 used; however, his behavior prior to Council's unanimous vote to fire him kept what would have amounted to about $30,000 from being included in his severance check.

"One of the qualifiers is that the individual leaves service in good standing," Walker wrote Friday in an e-mail. "The result of Paul's separation did not meet this qualifier."

Due to a source's error, the Miner incorrectly reported Sept. 6 the amount of time Beecher was covered by the city's insurance. Walker clarified that while Beecher was on paid leave from Aug. 10 to Sept. 9, the insurance would run until the first of October because "the coverage ends the first of the following month."

Two days after the Miner ran a story about Beecher signing a severance contract for Economic Development Director Jeff Weir without Council's knowledge, the mayor and Council called a special meeting. They deliberated for about 50 minutes before coming out of the closed-door executive session and voting to fire the embattled city manager. Because Beecher never told Council about signing the severance, and because Council voted against keeping about $34,000 in the 2007-08 budget for Weir's severance, Weir filed a claim against the city seeking treble damages for non-fulfillment of a contract.

Weir has since been hired on in Salinas, Calif., as the city's first economic development director there.

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