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Hall gave Sill a new contract less than a week after election PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 February 2018 10:36


Chief’s departure cost taxpayers $191,123

• Leader & Times

Former City Manager Mark Hall was not the only city employee to get a contract adjustment after three new city commissioners were elected but had yet to take their seats.

Documents obtained by the Leader & Times indicate that six days after the election that placed three new commissioners on the Liberal City Commission, Chief of Police Al Sill received a new contract from Hall Nov. 13, 2017. The election took place Nov. 7.

However, until Sill was relieved of duty after the first meeting of the new commission, only Sill and Hall were aware of the changes made to Sill’s contract, according to Human Resource Director Sheena Schmutz and City Finance Director Chris Ford.

Sill’s original contract began in 2007 and automatically renewed each year. His initial starting salary was $72,010 per year with an additional $2,500 per year contributed to his International City/County Management Association Deferred Compensation Account and no vehicle allowance.

Sill received raises throughout the years, and he eventually reached a salary of $108,056 per year.

His new contract maintained that salary, but it also provided a hefty compensation package should Sill be terminated, including a $5,000 annual contribution to his International City/County Management Association Deferred Compensation Account and a $7,500 annual vehicle allowance.

In Sill’s original contract, he would receive six-month severance pay if he were terminated. Under the new contract, that doubled to 12 months. And the ICMA annual contribution of $5,000 was also added.

The contract also added that Sill would not only receive accrued vacation time but also be paid for accrued sick leave hours as well.

According to a document provided by an open records request, Sill had accumulated 502.15 vacation hours which equated to $26,413.09. He also had accumulated 885.03 hours of sick leave, which equated to $46,552.58.

Sill was also paid his annual salary of $109,408 even though the contract read that his new rate was $108,056.

The additional $1,352 was attributed to a Nov. 26 across-the-board pay increase of 65 cents per hour for all full time employees.

“The increase was to offset health insurance increases,” Schmutz said. 

According to Ford, the increase still fit within the existing budget, and no additional budget authority was needed from the commission.

Sill tendered his resignation, which was to take effect April 2, 2018, just days before the new commission took control in early January, and Interim City Manager Calvin Burke dismissed Sill three months before Sill’s announced retirement date.

But according to City Attorney Lynn Koehn, Sill’s new contract superceded Sill’s resignation.

“We were stuck with the contract,” he said.

In all, Sill was paid $191,123.67 under the new terms agreed to by Sill and Hall less than a week after Justin Varnes, Taylor Harden and Connie Seigrist were elected to the city commission.

City Commissioner Jack Carlile said he was unaware of the new contract.

“I didn’t know about the changes,” he said. But he also stated the city charter granted the city manager authority to produce the employee contract without the commission’s consent.

Burke was also not notified about Sill’s contract.

Hall could only provide Sill with a new contract. State statute limits a city to having only two contract employees, typically the manager, which is provided a contract by the city commission, and the chief of police, which is provided by the city manager.

The new contract changed Sill’s termination package from $83,617 to $191,123, or an increase of $107,530.

Only after Sill was released was his new contract located by city staff, and it was discovered that Hall and Sill had rewritten it six days after the election without notifying the commission or other members of the city staff.




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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