As part of his request for a severance package, former Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams claims he was fired by the City Council last year, and did not resign.
In a letter dated Dec. 29 that was sent to City Attorney Tim Carmel, Adams’ attorney, Roger Frederickson, wrote that Adams’ offer to resign in October was contingent on finding a permanent city manager successor.
The letter claims that by accepting his resignation Nov. 19 — before a successor had been found — the City Council “unilaterally terminated Mr. Adams,” which, Adams’ contract dictates, entitles him to six months of severance pay including benefits — estimated in
November as approximately $105,000.
The letter also gives the city a deadline of Wednesday to agree to pay the severance or face a possible lawsuit.
Never miss a local story.
Adams earned $157,294 annually. The city paid him $26,553.87 in gross pay from the time the council accepted his resignation and put him on paid administrative leave Nov. 19 until an interim manager was hired last week, Administrative Services Director Debbie Malicoat said.
In addition, he was paid $54,219.51 for the annual leave balance he had accrued, which was capped at 725 hours.
The Tribune on Wednesday obtained a copy of the Dec. 29 letter and a follow-up letter that Frederickson sent the city Jan. 14.
In the Dec. 29 letter, Frederickson wrote, “Mr. Adams deems the City Council’s premature acceptance of his resignation as a termination, and is therefore entitled to the severance provided by (section) 6.B of the contract.
“Mr. Adams has been a dedicated employee and has appreciated his time serving as the City Manager of Arroyo Grande,” the letter continued. “He hopes to end this relationship in an amicable manner and supports the efforts necessary to recruit a new qualified city manager so the City can continue to be successful.”
That section of Adams’ employment agreement states that he is entitled to severance pay if he is terminated by the City Council without cause — but if he is fired with good cause or he resigns, he is not entitled to the package.
Adams announced publicly his decision to resign when he issued a statement to The Tribune and other media on Oct. 1. In that statement, he said he intended to resign once a permanent city manager successor had been found.
“My resignation will become effective once my replacement has been hired and starts work,” Adams wrote. “Therefore, I intend to remain in my position throughout the recruitment process in order to ensure a smooth transition and enable me to complete a number of important efforts under way.”
According to City Clerk Kelly Wetmore, Adams did not submit a separate resignation letter to the city. Several council members said Wednesday that they recall Adams copying them on the statement he sent to The Tribune.
The council accepted Adams’ resignation at its meeting Nov. 19 and put him on leave. By the time the council members met in closed session that day, they had decided that Adams could no longer effectively lead the city, they said in previous phone interviews with The Tribune.
The council accepted his resignation statement at its meeting Nov. 19 and put him on leave. By the time the council members met in closed session that day, they had decided that Adams could no longer effectively lead the city, they said in previous phone interviews with The Tribune.
More than a month later, Frederickson submitted Adams’ request to the city for severance pay.
Frederickson submitted the follow-up letter to the city after Interim City Manager Bob McFall was officially hired Jan. 13, asking for the City Council to make a decision on Adams’ severance package by Jan. 28.
On that date, Adams and Frederickson would consider whether to pursue litigation against the city, Frederickson wrote.
“It is our understanding that Mr. Adams is no longer on paid administrative leave or employed by the city of Arroyo Grande, although there has been no correspondence or communication to confirm this,” Frederickson wrote.
Neither Adams nor Frederickson could be reached for comment Wednesday.
The City Council will debate whether to grant or deny Adams’ request at a special meeting at 7 p.m today.