Brown Will Receive $110,000 Severance Payment

by ARLnow.com October 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm 4,241 44 Comments

The county board has voted to pay former county manager Michael Brown more in severance than it has paid him in salary.

Brown, who resigned after just four months on the job, will receive six months of his base salary — $220,000 per year — and compensation for unused leave as part of the approved severance package, according to Arlington County Director of Human Resources Marcy Foster.

The deal was first reported by the Sun Gazette’s Scott McCaffrey, who wrote that it “may cause eyebrows to rise.”

Foster said she couldn’t determine whether it’s normal to pay severance to a county executive who resigns voluntarily, since she could not recall any who have done so. She said that the board approved the severance package to help Brown with his transition back to Savannah.

Brown’s contract specifies that he was to receive six months of his base salary and compensation for unused leave in the event that he is “terminated by the Board without cause.”

  • BrownFlipFlops

    Voluntary resignation. No severance. We’re facing budget shortfalls. The board should not be so generous with our money. They ought to follow the contract Mr. Brown signed. Unacceptable.

  • Jason S

    To help with his transition? I know when I’ve quit my jobs, they didn’t give me a parting gift.

  • KateKirk

    WHAT????? It’s raising more than my eyebrows. I can only assume there is more to this story because on the surface, it’s outrageous. Why would the county give any more than comp for accrued leave for a voluntary resignation?

    I’d like some help with my transition to higher property taxes…can the Board help me out?

  • AC teacher

    There goes any hope of cost of living adjustment for Arlington teachers. Our health insurance goes up and we’re frozen in pay (in COLA and raise) for at least 1.5 years (and likely 2.5 years) and we’re handing out golden parachutes…awesome!

    • AllenB

      What the county spends money on has ZERO impact on what the schools have to spend, per the revenue sharing agreement between the two.

  • Eddie

    I hope to see a follow-up article. This will be hard to justify without a prior agreement.

  • Lou

    The fact that it’s exactly the same terms as a termination leads me to believe they are covering all the bases. We definitely can not afford to voluntarily pay out money like that.

  • Dave

    Amazing, just three days ago Brown said Arlington will have a $35M budget gap. Well paying out 6-figure severance packages will certainly help us achieve that goal…

  • Not fooled by Board propaganda

    Contract called for $110,000 and pay for unused leave if fired, and Board is providing what the contract requires.

    The Board is not being generous. But the Board is lacking in basic candor in failing to state truthfully that the Board decided to fire the manager and replace him with an insider. Sad for Arlington, sad for democracy.

    Vote in November to remove a part of the cancer that infects the Board.

    • Dan

      That would appear to be the case…..interesting.

    • AllenB

      Since when does someone get fired and the reasons are revealed publicly? It’s always something like they resigned to spend more time with their family. That’s the basic storyline in cases like this.

      • NotYou

        … this is the public sector not the private sector… It’s our money they are using to pay him off… so yes… we are owed an answer…. at the minimum not a cover up about him resigning if in fact he did get fired.

  • Greg

    This makes my head spin. I wonder if he was at odds with the Board on spending priorities. His comments the other day about being very fiscally cautious stood out. What else could he get canned for after only a few months that would qualify as “without cause”?

    I hope our (now three) local news organizations can clarify this one. As it stands now, it smells….

  • Observer

    So the Board is paying him what the contract specifies in the event of termination without cause. So much for the he is voluntarily resigning spin. As for the $110,000, it is basically the same as what the ouside law firm bills the county every month for the HOT lanes suit. It must be great to spend when you have no limits and it is not your money.

  • Singled

    For perspective: Take the annual tax bill on your basic Arlington condo and then multiply it by about 40. That’s the payout here.

  • Matt

    You have GOT to be kidding me!!!!

  • O.C.

    Same package as if he were let go without cause? Then he was obviously let go. This way he’s given a nice cover story for why he had to leave.

    Make no mistake, Donnellan will be far better. Brown = Donahue.

  • GK

    Yeah, we need some serious answers here. Something is fishy.

  • DaveinSA

    Jay, et al —- How about some transparency? I’m beginning to think that I live in Chicago. Shame on each and every Board member. This is (1)our money that you are giving away or (2) you are not being truthful about his departure. Fess up before it before it gets real ugly. And Chris, say good bye, sorry this all happened on your election cycle.

  • Let’s Be Free

    This is why we shouldn’t have an all Democrat County Board. Stuff like this happens all the time and we don’t ever learn about it — this time McCaffrey got a tip and happened to ask the right person the right question at the right time — otherwise we would never have known.

  • JimPB

    Reading between the lines: The Board wanted to fire Brown, but this would involve a lengthy and public process. An unwelcome distraction when the county faces so many challenges. So, an agreement: he resigns and the County Board votes him a taxpayer paid severance in the amount specified in his contract should be be fired by the Board without cause. For Brown: Resignation looks better on his CV, he avoids public disclosure of his shortcomings as Arlington County Manager, and the severance compensation gives him fiancnial support while he looks for a new job. For the County: It is spared the time and hassles of going through the procedures to fire him, which might well be disruptive to county operations and have substantial direct and indorect costs.

    Most of all, I want to know about the nature and thoroughness of the checking on his performance in his prior job as well as what would be involved should be be hired as Arlington’s County Manager.

    And next time: Consider saving the time and expense of a national search. Look first here. The talent we need could well be right here.

    • ballston

      very well said Jim. Tend to agree with most of your points, especially the looking at home for talent first.

    • Dan

      ” Look first here.”

      While I see your point, I think that this government is a bit too inbreed already.

  • Arlington County Employee

    Wow all county employees are behind a step cause they said there was no money for our raises last year and now this. Maybe the firefighters/police officers had the right idea. I think it is time for a change.

    • AllenB

      A change to what? Someone/some people who think there are too many of you already? Brilliant idea.

      • NotYou

        … and some of us don’t think us tax payers are paying for all they crap they want in this county… I don’t blame the employees… but the the citizen groups that want every last little thing paid for by tax dollars… go raise money for your own improvement.

  • DB

    Simple solution. Vote out the county board members who feel untouchable on their golden pedestals.

  • Rob Rosten

    Look folks, the county employees work the tails off. I’ve worked for DC, Alexandira, and Arlingotn County. Arlington govt is 110 % the best of all around.

    Clearly the County manager could not cut it. The wife story isn’t passing the smell test and he was obviously fired. End of story. The County works really hard and does a fairly good job compared to other jurisdictions across the country. They have put in smart growth and grown our community like no other, and done it well. Give kudos to the board and the County for outing the County manager who couldn’t get his job done. For whatever reasons, conflicts with the board or otherwise, he clearly didn’t fit the culture and hit the ground running. I’m proud of the County for having the balls to fire the manager if he wasn’t the leader for the job. Go Arlington, it isn’t easy but that is the leadership that I’m proud of and thankful for. There are too many other places that would have let this go on for MANY years. That is why Arlington is awesome. Go Arlington, it’s your birthday, get your new County manager on. Mr. Brown, go home and find a job elsewhere. As for the ‘wife is ill story’, my sincere healing thoughts to her. But if you used here or exaggerated her illness just as an excuse for being fired – you suck and that is insult to injury. Go home to Savannah.

  • TGEoA

    The CB is good at only one thing. Pissing your money away

  • charlie

    Proof that the board has no clue that this is our money and money is REAL not Monopoly money.

  • O.C.

    Did any of you attend the public hearing when closing the Columbia Pike library (@ Walter Reed Dr.) was proposed? I heard Brown was checking his emails while people were testifying about how this would hurt them, and finally one citizen called him on his rudeness. Supposedly, Brown responded that he needed every moment to deal with the myriad tasks of this job.

    That doesn’t fly in Arlington. You don’t get to do the bean counter thing and blow off public comment when you close a library. That’s the advantage of somebody inside.

    $110k is well worth it to cut your losses with a mistake, and make this go away.

  • Arlington Taxpayer

    When do we get the rest of the story? Michael Brown was clearly too much of a good thing for Arlington County. The County Board and staff did not like his open management style and he was quickly sacked.

    The back door hiring of the new County Manager signals a hasty retreat to the dark days of the previous County Manager. I agree with the earlier comment about the lack of transparency. The County Board has been busy increasing development to try to make Arlington into an urban area, who knew they meant Chicago?

    I look forward to an expose with the truth.

    • Dan

      He also made the unpardonable sin of talking about the need for more revenue and cutting back services BEFORE an election and not in the dead of winter a long time away from any voting.
      Interesting timing……

      • Burger

        Bingo. This is the right answer. He talked about personnel issues when the $35 million deficit for 2011 came up. That means he was tallking about layoffs and tax hikes which is a big no-no in a county that likes to send real estate assessments out the day after the election.

  • Ouch

    Either Mr. Brown resigned on his own–the official story from the Board–or he was fired by the Board and is eligible for the $110K–the severance officially approved by the Board and confirmed by the HR department.

    ONE OR THE OTHER. Which is it and why the lie? This needs to be explained ASAP. ARLNow–please pursue.

  • Jack

    Outrageous – pure and simple. Fire the board – and no severance package.

  • Mark

    This is so maddening and absurd, given Alrington’s budget woes — just unbelievable!!! We need to replace the Board.

  • Clarendude

    Brown’s leaving didn’t go unnoticed in Savannah…


  • Susan

    This is just wrong. Why are we giving severance pay to someone that resigned??? Just think what Arlington County could do with that $110,000.00… I hope this is NOT in any more contracts.

  • gringo

    Actually it’s more than $110,000, according to the Savannah Morning News. And they say that “remaining” moving expenses to be paid out are $12,000+??? How much transitional help do these people need?

    • charlie

      now add in the numbers from Savanah severance and the man earned almost two full years of pay in 2010. wish i could do that.

  • rob

    Can i quit a county job too please?

  • Delta Dawn

    Fire the whole lot of them in Arlington County. The director of recreation and parks who came from Richmond, VA, six months after he was fired by Mayor Doug Wilder as director of recreation and parks in Richmond, VA, allegedly for spending too much money according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. That man is the current director of Arlington County’s parks and recreation. Someone Doug Wilder fired.

    Stop the bleeding. Stop the money going into a large black pithole. Stop the giant sucking sound of your money disappearing in the form of taxes, not to be spent on libraries, books, or on small things we like, but big-time entertainment, a 3000 square foot ballroom in Rosslyn. So uplifting for our youth, isn’t it?

    I will go down to those neighborhoods where youth in their unrestrained enthusiasm will dance the night away in Rosslyn, and I shall hand out Metro cards with enough money for one-way metro fare to Rosslyn and see how everyone likes that. Do you think everyone would like that in Rosslyn?

    Wow, what a popular guy you are going to be for all the teens in the neighborhood, Chris. Wowee. What does this have to do with Michael Brown resigning? Everything. It has to do with judgement. It has to do with who is hiding something … else … perhaps. Perhaps not. Vote for the Green Party anyway, ok?

  • Delta Dawn

    Cherchez d’argent.


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