Contracts spelled out severance pay for discharged City employees


July 22, 2021

Councilwoman Misty Yost

DAYTON–Clarification of the voucher warrants, at the request of City Councilwoman Misty Yost, indicated the financial impact of three City administrators' firing.

Yost, chairwoman of the Human Resources Committee, queried Mayor Zac Weatherford regarding line items on the register of checks from the City's bank account during the July 14 City Council meeting.

Line items for three recently discharged City of Dayton employees, let go by Mayor Zac Weatherford on June 16, indicate severance and benefit payouts to Public Works Director James S. Costello, Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer Trina D. Cole, and Director of Planning and Community Development Meagan Hayes (née Bailey). Each were under similar employment contracts entered into and approved by the Dayton City Council, Hayes's contract approved in a special meeting on August 27, 2019, and both Costello's and Cole's contracts adopted February 13, 2019.

Costello, the register showed, received a regular salary check on June 15, 2021, in the amount of $2,844.44, a payment of $6,249.03 on the same June 15 date for benefit coverage under COBRA, and a check on June 16, 2021, for severance pay in the amount of $93,132.05.

According to the register, Cole received a June 15, 2021 check for regular salary of $2,247.63. The same day, a check for $4,507.20 was written to Cole for the COBRA benefit. The following day Cole received a severance check in the amount of $91,183.23.

According to the employment contracts for Costello and Cole, "the Employee may be terminated from employment with the Employer by the mayor for any reason or no reason at all. In the event the Employee is terminated during the three (3) year term of this Agreement for any reason other than for "cause," as defined in Section 8.C of this Agreement, the Employer will be responsible for paying the Employee's compensation, as determined pursuant to Section 3 of this Agreement, for a period of one month for each year the Employee has been employed by the City, up to a maximum of 12 months, from the effective date of termination."

Termination checks to Costello and Cole were based on their service to the City, both in excess of 12 years, which capped severance pay at 12 months.

The terms for Hayes were similar but slightly different. Hayes received a regular salary check on June 15 for $2,223.63, and a COBRA check in the amount of $4,507.20, also dated June 15. The severance check amount was $35,129.16, based on the contract's termination language that defined "termination without cause" severance as paying the employee compensation for "a period of three months from the effective date of termination."

The late Craig George was in office as mayor when Costello's and Cole's contracts were approved. Weatherford was serving as mayor when Hayes's employment contract was approved.

Yost said after the meeting that the Human Resources Committee had a meeting prior to the July 14 Council meeting and received recommendations from Weatherford on what he envisions for future staffing. "We discussed the situation we're in, and which direction to go, and we all agreed we're starting from scratch," Yost said. "We're doing fact-finding as much as we can and are hoping to have a recommendation at the next Council meeting.

"We know it's a tall order," Yost said, "but we also know we need to do planning to get some help in City Hall, but also do our due diligience and our homework. We certainly don't want to rush into any decision."

-Reporter Melissa Gemmell contributed to this story.


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