City manager fired; Councilmen reject business expansion
LANCASTER - After nearly an hour and a half spent in closed session, the Lancaster City Council voted to sever the contract for City Manager Ricky Childers.
With a motion made by District 5 Councilman Clyde Hairston and seconded by District 3 Councilman Marco Mejia, the council unanimously agreed to terminate Childers contract with severance pay Monday, Jan. 24.
Childers’ annual salary is $155,000 and has been with the city since Feb.26, 2007.
His contract states : In the event employee is terminated by council before the aforesaid term of employment (Feb. 27, 2012) and during such time the employee is willing and able to perform his duties under this agreement, then in that event employer agrees to pay employee lump sum cash payment equal to 12 months salary, insurance benefits and retirement contributions as provided herein. Childers was present at the meeting until council reconvened from closed session when he didn’t return.
Employee shall also be compensated for all earned vacation, holidays and other accrued benefits to date of termination.
In the event the employee is terminated for malfeasance, misfeasance, or conviction then, in that event, employer shall have no obligation to pay the aggregate severance sum designated above.
District 6 Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Nina Morris made a motion to have Assistant City Manager Opal Mauldin-Robertson fill the immediate vacancy as interim city manager.
The motion was approved anonymously.
"While the circumstances surrounding being named interim city manager were not ideal; I am honored that council has trust and confidence in my ability to continue moving our organization forward," stated Mauldin-Robertson.
There hasn’t been any announcement or discussion by the council for when the search for a new city manager will take place.
The final reason for Childers firing hasn’t been announced but, most council are saying poor job performance and loss of city council’s confidence.
In other news, District 4 Councilman James Daniels and District 5 Councilman Hairston voted against a business moving three doors down for expansion.
The business, a family run tattoo parlor located at Dallas Avenue and Pleasant Run ,had been in business for four years and appeared before Mayor Marcus Knight and council because of zoning law changes.
According to the city, the change in the building ordinance now requires all businesses, even if just reapplying to move, require a special use permit.
The special use permit means the city will evaluate their place of business every 10 years, or however stated in said contract.
"On behalf of the tattoo shop, please consider our good behavior I guess you call it, [no crime and cleanliness], and let us thrive in your city," said employee of shop and father of three young kids in Lancaster.
Due to the Planning and Zoning Board’s split 2-2 vote, the council required a super majority vote for the permit to pass.
The shop lost with a 4-2 vote and the room fell silent.
"We as a council have done a disservice to the tattoo shop and closed doors on new business," said Place 1 Councilmember Walter Weaver.
"To deny this request, to move three doors down, is not being business friendly."
City Attorney Bob Hager said in order for a revote to take place, it would have to be made a motion by one of the denying councilmen at the next meeting.