By DOTTY NIST
A special county commission meeting scheduled for May 31 will be for the purpose of discussing Walton County Administrator Greg Kisela’s employment agreement in light of questions raised as to whether that agreement would allow the action taken by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on May 22, according to Gerry Demers of Walton County Administration.
A public notice of the special meeting was posted on the Walton County web site on May 29.
Demers said that, although the BCC had voted 3-2 on May 22 to accept Kisela’s resignation, the resignation was predicated on the county administrator receiving a severance package with severance payments equaling six months’ salary—a condition that had been challenged by Walton County Taxpayers Association Executive Director Bob Hudson and other citizens. As of May 29, Demers said Kisela had not submitted his resignation.
The employment agreement, signed by Kisela upon his coming on board with the county about one year ago, provides only for unpaid salary up to the final day of employment and benefits earned, including vacation, to be provided upon departure, unless the administrator is terminated by the county “without cause.”
The arrangement agreed to by the county regarding Kisela’s departure was characterized as a negotiated agreement between the parties.
Bob Hudson has also brought up a state law passed last year that restricts employee severance, including limiting severance payment to six weeks’ compensation for severance that is not provided for in an employee’s contract or employment agreement. However, since Kisela’s employment agreement was signed prior to July 1, 2011, the effective date given for this provision of the new law, it is unclear whether the law would apply in this situation.
Contacted on May 29, Kisela commented that his understanding was that the special meeting was to “sort out” issues raised by the public in connection with the BCC action on May 22.
“I have not technically resigned…my offer to resign was contingent on the severance payments,” he said. Kisela said he had not submitted a letter of resignation or “signed anything” in connection with resignation.
Kisela said he would not mind leaving his post since this was apparently the wish of the majority of the BCC members.
However, he said he would not want to be put in the situation of accepting severance payment and then being told by a court “you need to pay that back.”
Kisela said it is unclear whether the new state law regarding severance applies to his situation. The law is untested as yet, he noted, “and I don’t want to be the guinea pig.”
Demers said it will be up to the BCC as to whether any action will be taken at the May 31 special meeting. It is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. and is to take place at the Walton County Courthouse in DeFuniak Springs.