The director of Morro Bay’s Recreation and Parks Department, who has served the city in various roles for nearly three decades, has been dismissed from his position.
Joe Woods’ employment ended Friday.
“Mr. Woods’ employment was discontinued ‘without cause’ under the terms of his ‘at will’ contract, which included five months of severance pay,” City Manager David Buckingham wrote in an emailed statement sent Monday.
At the time of his dismissal, Woods, who had worked for the city for more than 26 years, received full payment of his final two weeks of work — about $4,800.
Woods also received payout for compensable accrued leave, about $24,400, and a severance payment of approximately $49,325.
He earned an annual salary of $118,000.
No reason was given for the decision to terminate Woods’ contract in the statement, and city officials declined to go into any details.
“I don’t want to get into a discussion of personnel,” Buckingham said Monday. “The ending of his employment says enough. We deeply value his service.”
Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons said that the decision rested with Buckingham, who manages the staff.
“As a councilmember, I wish Joe the best,” Irons said. “I understand that there was a respectful dialogue and communication through that transition. I’m certainly very grateful for his years of service.”
With Woods’ departure, the Recreation and Parks Department will be temporarily be supervised by Buckingham, who said he’d evaluate the options for how the position might be filled or redefined.
As department director, Woods oversaw a breadth of programs, including kids club, teen center, youth sports and senior center activities. Woods also volunteered with Project Surf Camp, a nonprofit organization that teaches surfing to young people with special needs.
Buckingham wrote in an email to the City Council and the rest of the staff that Woods’ service from his “leadership in the Rec Department … should be recognized by all of us as worthy of praise.”
The department, along with other city programs, is undergoing an evaluation to make sure it’s meeting expectations for efficiency and executing objectives. No significant changes to the department are being made.
“We want to deliver more effective, more efficient and more accessible recreation programs over the next 50 years,” Buckingham said.
In his email to city staff, Buckingham expressed confidence in the rest of the leadership team, including Administrative Services Director Susan Slayton, Public Services Director/City Engineer Rob Livick, Police Chief Amy Christey and Fire Chief Steve Knuckles.
Those officials, as well as Harbor Director Eric Endersby and Community Development Manager Scot Graham, are “in my estimation, tremendously talented and crucial members of the … team as we continue make Morro Bay an even better place to live, work and visit,” Buckingham wrote.