Langley council to review severance package for outgoing administrator

The Langley City Council is mulling over a three-month severance package for outgoing City Administrator Walt Blackford.

The council is expected to vote on the deal at its meeting tonight. The package, based on Blackford’s current salary, would pay roughly $12,000.

Mayor Neil Colburn said he hopes the council will approve the departure package. Colburn said he worked out the details of the severance package with Blackford.

“I think that the council supports the job that Walt’s been doing. A severance (package) is, I think, a reasonable action,” Colburn said.

“It feels and seems appropriate,” he said.

Blackford was an at-will employee and did not have an employment contract with the city.

Blackford’s upcoming departure from city government was unexpected.

Incoming mayor Paul Samuelson announced last week that he would take over Blackford’s duties and was planning to work without a city administrator at city hall once he takes over as mayor in January.

Both Blackford and Colburn said they were surprised when the change was announced late last month.

Blackford has worked for Langley since February 2004. He took over the job from Lynn Hicks, who served as the city’s administrator and attorney.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Blackford would be paid his full salary through March 31 and receive full health insurance coverage for the same time span. He would also be paid for his accrued vacation through the end of the year.

The two-page agreement outlines Blackford’s transition out of city hall, including the completion of a status report on various projects and an inventory of hard files.

The outgoing administrator’s last day at city hall would be Dec. 21, the agreement notes. By then, Blackford must remove his personal belongings from city hall and vacate his former office.

One section of the proposed agreement would give the new mayor two options for more time for the transition.

Under the first option, Blackford would work as a $75-an-hour consultant to give Samuelson “advice and counsel” after the end of the year.

Under the second option, Blackford would work for the city for an extra month, through January.

Colburn said he could not say if the council would approve the agreement.

“It would be improper for me to guess the council’s action,” he said.

“I think that it’s fair and equitable and

I think that the council will see that,” Colburn added.

Colburn again praised the work of his city administrator.

“He was the quarterback, I was the coach,” Colburun said. “I think we made an excellent management team.”

“He was the hub. He was the person that if people had a question, they called. He was the constant presence, the steady hand at the till when I wasn’t here.

It will be Langley’s loss next year not having Blackford in city hall, Colburn added.

“I think it will be difficult. That’s all I’m willing to say.”

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