Avondale City Commission approves severance agreement with city manager

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt February 15, 2018

Avondale Estates City Manager Clai Brown stands next to a portrait of his father, former city manager and police chief Dewey Brown. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

The Avondale Estates City Commission on Feb. 14 voted 5-0 to part ways with City Manager Clai Brown.

Brown did not attend the meeting, Mayor Jonathan Elmore said. The former city manager has deep roots in Avondale.  He is the son of Dewey Brown, who was Avondale’s city manager and police chief for Avondale Estates for 46 years.

Brown has been the city manager since 2008, but the commission now has members and a mayor who weren’t on the board then.

The relationship between Brown and the current commission soured over the last few months and things came to a head in December, when Brown announced his intention to resign effective Feb. 16 of this year, only to rescind that resignation a month later after the city commission refused to pay him a severance that amounted to more than $300,000 (it was exactly $317,408.17, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution). The severance would’ve been a year’s salary – Brown makes about $180,000 per year and was among the highest paid city managers in the state for a city of Avondale’s size – plus accrued vacation and sick leave.

The new severance agreement approved last night gives Brown a fraction of what he was asking for. He will get an approximately $45,000 severance payment and receive $32,000 in accrued leave. The city will also pay his health insurance through Dec. 31, 2018. Following his departure, Brown will become a consultant for the city until June 30. He will be paid $6,500 a month for this work, the city says, resulting in an additional potential pay out of $26,000.

As part of the agreement, Brown has agreed to not sue the city. City Finance Director Ken Turner was named interim city manager while the city searches for Brown’s replacement.

On Thursday, Brown and City Commissioners released a joint statement about Brown’s departure:

The Board of Mayor and Commissioners (BOMC) and City Manager Clai Brown announce that they have reached a mutually acceptable agreement that will allow the parties to move forward in a positive and productive way. Mr. Brown’s last day as City Manager was Wednesday, February 14, 2018. However, Mr. Brown will continue to serve as a consultant to the city through June 30, in order to ease the transition for a new City Manager. Although there is no such thing as a perfect solution to a situation such as this, each of us is confident that we are doing what is fair for all concerned, and in the best interest of our community.

The parties understand that the last two months, since Mr. Brown announced his resignation as City Manager, have been challenging for the BOMC, Mr. Brown, City Staff, and the citizens of Avondale Estates. Mayor Jonathan Elmore said, “I speak for both our BOMC, as well as Mr. Brown, when I say that all of us love our City and want it to prosper and continue to be a wonderful place to live and raise a family. None of us want anything but the best for Avondale Estates, our citizens, and for one another. In no way do we want to have division in our community. In fact, we want quite the opposite. We want harmony. Because of our mutual commitment to this community, we have worked over the past month to find a way to fairly address the issues between us.”

The BOMC thanks Mr. Brown for his ten years of devoted service to the community. Mr. Brown expressed his appreciation to the citizens of our City and all those who have served on the BOMC during his tenure for affording him the opportunity to serve as City Manager. We each wish the other well in the future and are confident that great things lie ahead for the City of Avondale Estates.

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About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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