With Knox County Commission due this afternoon to again take up the question of severance payments for departing employees, County Mayor Tim Burchett has issued his own proposed policy. In effect, it would rule out severance payments for any employee who resigns, is laid off as part of a staff reduction, or is fired for cause. The only exception would be buyout packages that the county may sometimes offer to induce people to leave or retire.
The policy, which Commission has been debating and delaying for months, is a result of the kerfuffle that arose around severance payments authorized for three employees by former County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. After initially freezing those payments--to Larry Frank, Bruce Wuethrich, and Susanne Dupes--Burchett and the county settled with the three last month for $13,000 each. The case highlighted the lack of a clear county policy and an inconsistent approach to severance awards in the past.