Chatham County begins severance negotiations with suspended county manager

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 1:11 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2022 at 6:26 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham County Chairman Chester Ellis said Friday that the county has begun severance negotiations with the suspended county manager.

County Manager Lee Smith was suspended with pay in July.

After an executive session with commissioners and staff that was closed to the public, Chairman Chester Ellis read this statement to media: “Chatham County board of commissioners is authorizing the county attorney and the chairman to receive what we believe will be a mutual severance agreement between Mr. Smith and the Chatham County government.”

WTOC put in a public records request for the minutes from the executive session and have not heard from the County Attorney’s office at this time. We were told that executive session minutes are not typically available through public records.

Michael Kaigler is the interim County Manager at this time.

According to the Chatham County charter, the Chatham County Manager may be removed by a two-thirds vote of all board of commissioners.

At least days 30 before a county manager’s removal becomes effective, the board must also have a two thirds vote to agree on the reasons for the manager’s removal. If that happens, Lee Smith could request a public hearing up to 10 days after.

If removed, he would collect any unpaid salary, accumulated annual leave and three months of pay.

If he is removed because of malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, his salary for the next three months will not be paid.

Chairman Ellis would not answer any media questions as to why he suspended Smith at this time.

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