Indian Wells City Council Approves Severance For Outgoing City Manager

INDIAN WELLS - Indian Wells City Council voted unanimously to give outgoing city manager Greg Johnson a severance package worth $427,592.

As city manager, Johnson was making $254,000 a year. He resigned after he was accused of getting a local resident fired from his job.

The man had raised questions about the Johnson's salary and benefits at a council meeting back in August.

The city attorney said, based on Johnson's 2002 employment agreement, he was not guilty of "serious misconduct" and, therefore, entitled to the payout.

"Unless it falls within that definition, you have to pay severance payments set forth in the proposed severance agreement," said City Attorney Stephen Deitsch.

Indian Wells residents packed City Hall. Many expressed their frustration saying the city needs to move on.

"He (Johnson) did a great job. This should not be a 'gotcha' -- should not be out to screw him because he made an error in judgement," said one resident.

Councilman Douglas Hanson had wanted to fire Johnson. But if that happened, the council was warned it could bring about a much more costly lawsuit.

"I have to say, in hindsight, it's a very bad contract. Something none of us will let happen again," said Councilwoman Mary Roche.

"I'm as unhappy as any of us sitting up here that we're in this position having to pay this money. But I see no alternative. I think Indian Wells has to live up to its agreements," added Councilman Larry Spicer.

Roderick Wood is filling in as interim city manager until the city finds a permanent replacement for Johnson.

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