Former Mt. Pleasant Deputy Clerk Gets Severance Package
Mount Pleasant trustees approved a severance package for one employee whose position was eliminated, but a second employee said she wasn't given the same consideration.
Mount Pleasant trustees Monday night voted 6-1 to approve a severance package for an employee whose position was eliminated in the 2013 budget.
Gary Feest was the only dissenting vote.
Sue Brewer, former deputy clerk, will officially retire on Jan. 31, after using her remaining vacation days starting Jan. 2. Additionally, she'll receive a $20,000 lump sum payout comprised of 30% of her sick leave according to village policy ($9,356); three days of unused vacation from 2012 ($505.68); almost 17 hours of accrued vacation from this year ($351.17); and severance pay ($9,792).
Brewer's position—and that of a courts clerk—was eliminated in the 2013 budget. The Clerk's office will replace a full-time position with two municipal part-time positions while the courts plans to hire a full time contract employee with some business or finance experience.
Because she agreed to the payout, Brewer will not be eligible for unemployment compensation and she acknowledges waiving any claims of age discrimination.
Trustee Karen Albeck admitted she wasn't entirely comfortable with the agreement, but said she voted for it in the end because it was the most fiscally responsible step to take.
"This was purely an economic decision," she explained. "Without this agreement, there might have been an unemployment claim that would have cost the village twice as much over the next two years. The bottom line is that this was the least expensive scenario."
Feest disagrees, saying that despite being told Brewer could take the village to court over the loss of her job, he doesn't feel like the village was under any real danger of litigation. More, he said trustees were acting in the full legal capacity of the board to set and enact a budget so a separation agreement with her was unnecessary.
"We asked department heads for cost-saving ideas going into the 2013 budget and both the clerk and the courts complied with that request," he said. "So does this mean we have to prepare severance packages for every position going forward? I don't think we do, and that's why I voted against it."
Bonnie Sorenson, former courts clerk, was approached about available options, Albeck said, but Brewer was the only one to respond and negotiate an agreement.
Sorenson says otherwise.
"I was never approached or spoken to about a separation agreement or retirement package," she told Patch in a phone interview Tuesday. "I had one phone conversation with (Labor Attorney) Jim Kourum and he never said anything about severance."
She says she was told before Thanksgiving that her job was being eliminated and she would be replaced by a contract employee.
Sorenson attended Monday's board meeting after hearing a preview of the agenda on WRJN that morning.
"I thought maybe since it wasn't specified about which clerk, the severance package would be for me, too," she said. "I was very surprised to learn that Sue was the only one considered."
Now that the vote has been taken, Patch asked if she's called Kourum about getting something equal for herself, but Sorenson said no because that's the board's responsibility.
"The board should direct him to talk to me just like they directed him to talk to Sue," she added. "The opportunity was there at the board meeting for him and I to have a quiet conversation. I was waiting, I am still waiting, for someone to talk to me."