Morro Bay’s City Council and City Manager Andrea Lueker officially are parting ways after reaching an agreement Thursday that includes a $153,332 severance package.
The City Council voted 5-0 on Thursday to end her employment Jan. 3, 2014. The council also voted 3-2 with Nancy Johnson and George Leage dissenting to place Lueker on administrative leave until Jan. 3.
Administrative services director Susan Slayton will assume the city manager role on an interim basis.
A council majority, led by Mayor Jamie Irons, has been pushing to fire Lueker and former City Attorney Rob Schultz since September. Just as they did with Schultz, whose last day was Nov. 15, Lueker and the council ultimately handled her departure as a resignation.
No reason has been given for why the council majority wanted to oust the pair.
In a written statement, Irons said, “The city has appointed Ms. Susan Slayton as acting city manager who has held this position in Ms. Lueker’s absence in the past. We are placing our confidence in Ms. Slayton while we pursue an interim city manager. This separation agreement concludes this matter and we are now ready to move on.”
Under the agreement, the city will pay Lueker about $116,000 in severance pay equal to nine months of salary. She also will receive $1,756 in holiday pay, $4,500 in sick leave, and $31,076 in unused vacation compensation.
The formula is similar to the severance package for Schultz, who received about $116,000 for nine months of pay plus $4,081 for holiday pay; $4,500 for unused sick leave; and $38,698 for 531 hours of vacation.
The council met for about 21/2 hours in closed session to discuss items that included Lueker’s separation and Slayton’s interim role. Irons didn’t comment specifically on the issue after the meeting and noted that each of the council members has a perspective.
“I feel like I’m taking responsibility for my decision as mayor and moving forward with what’s best for the city,” Irons said. “But it’s not just about me.”
The agreement includes a non-disparagement clause that states “the parties agree not to disparage, directly or indirectly, each other in any way or to make negative, derogatory, or untrue statements about each other.”
Lueker and the city also have agreed not to sue each other in relation to her employment with the city.
Morro Bay resident Garry Johnson said in public comment at the meeting that the City Council should say specifically what led to the split with Schultz and Lueker.
“If you have a reason, state it,” Johnson said. “If you don’t have a reason, stand up and state that like a decent person. People want to know why.”
Lueker didn’t respond to a call for comment Thursday afternoon. She has previously told The Tribune that she has a “few irons in the fire” regarding her future occupation.
She had been employed by the city since 1987, moving up the ranks from lifeguard to director of the parks and recreation department, assistant city manager and then city manager in 2007.
The separation agreement bars her from applying for or accepting work with the city for at least three years. The city and Lueker also concurred that no liability, misconduct or wrongdoing should be construed from the parting of ways.