PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Portsmouth taxpayers want to know why they have to pay nearly $200,000 in severance pay to their former city manager while Chesapeake pays nothing to their former deputy city manager.
Portsmouth's City Manager Ken Chandler and Chesapeake's Deputy City Manager Betty Jean Meyer both resigned within hours of each other Tuesday evening, Chandler due to hiring controversy and Meyer due to questionable spending on an unusable jail facility.
Many taxpayers are voicing their opinions via social media:
"Portsmouth is still as lame as ever," said one Twitter user and "Well, at least Chesapeake had the good sense to deny severance pay. Take notice, P-Town!" said another.
Bill Moody was one of the two council members who voted against giving Chandler $192,000 in severance pay.
"Council could have done as Chesapeake did," Moody said. "We go to the other extreme and vote to give [him] and almost $200,000 package."
Moody said this is not a good reflection of the city.
"It tells me that people who look at our tax rate as the highest in the region and say, 'No wonder it's the highest in the region,' look at the decisions being made," Moody said.
Councilman Steve Heretic disagrees with Moody. Heretic, who is also a lawyer, told 10 On Your Side legally, Portsmouth had no choice. Chandler's employment contract with the city states if he were to be terminated for any reason without cause, he gets salary and benefits for one year.
It's a common clause for city managers. Former Norfolk City Manager Regina Williams got $213,000 in severance when she was forced to retire two years ago.
However, the situation differs for deputy city managers. They, including Meyer, often have no contract which explains why she walked away without severance.
Moody told WAVY.com he will ask the city attorney to put some language in the new city manager's contract that better protects the city.
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