New PMPA alternate, interim city manager approved
Mayor can negotiate a payment to departed city manager - NEW INFO: Cannon will receive pay through Sept. 3 (source: General Release and Covenant Not To Sue).
Clinton Mayor Bob McLean has the authority to negotiate a severance package with Bill Ed Cannon, who quit Feb. 8 as Clinton City Manager.
The city council authorized the negotiation Monday night.
Meeting for the 3rd time in 3 weeks – the first 3 Mondays of February – council also discussed a company that could become the designer/manager of construction for the new Clinton Recreation Complex and approved a resolution setting Thomas Higgs as interim city manager. No action was taken on Higgs’ contract, however, following a closed session discussion; Higgs was excused from the meeting during a portion of the talks. There was no public statement of what Higgs’ salary will be; Cannon’s starting salary with the City of Clinton was $110,000/annual. Salaries in excess of $50,000/annual are public information based on South Carolina law.
No action was taken on a contract with Whitten Center, either. The council stayed behind closed doors for just over an hour; at its Feb.1 meeting, the council was behind closed doors for 4 hours. Cannon’s resignation was announced the next Monday, Feb. 8 (when the meeting started with a closed session), and an emergency provision was added to the agenda to name Higgs – who had been the assistant city manager – as the interim city manager.
Council also named Public Works Director Joey Meadors as Cannon’s replacement on the board of PMPA, representing Clinton. (PMPA is the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency, the electrical supplier for Clinton, Laurens, Newberry and 7 other cities.)
There was no reason given for Cannon’s abrupt resignation as the Clinton City Manager. He had served with Clinton for 3 years, coming from a similar job in Florida, the Mayor’s home state. Cannon also has civil engineering experience in Kentucky.
The city announced on Friday that Higgs was named the interim city manager – an action taken by the council the previous Monday in an emergency action.
All 3 motions at Monday night’s 2-hour called meeting – Meadors’ appointment, severance for Cannon, and Higgs’ interim appointment – passed with unanimous votes. Because of COVID-19, the Clinton City Council still is not allowing the public to attend its meetings – The Chronicle was granted permission by Cannon to attend in person, instead of having to watch on the City Facebook Page. Citizens can watch and listen to the meeting and make comments in real time on the City Facebook Page.
There was no explanation as to why Cannon is due a severance package after submitting a resignation.
The resolution says, in part, “the City has determined it is in the best interest of the City to execute a severance agreement (the “Severance Agreement”) between Mr. Cannon and the City providing the terms and conditions for the discontinuation of Mr. Cannon’s employment.”
The resolution pertaining to Higgs’ role as interim city manager says, in part, “the Council, acting through the Mayor, shall negotiate, offer, execute and deliver a contract with Mr. Higgs as necessary for him to fulfill his role as Interim City Manager.”
The 3rd closed session item – contract with Whitten Center – pertains to the fact that the State of South Carolina has given to the City of Clinton a sizeable portion of the vast Whitten Village property. It is deemed “excess” by the State – a facility for the developmentally disabled, Whitten Center observed its 100th anniversary in Sept. 2020. It also was one of the first COVID-19 infections and deaths “hot spots” in South Carolina (beginning in March 2020).
Some property borders on I-26 and is considered by city officials to be prime development property to complement the Clinton Commerce Park, and commercial areas that include Hampton Inn, Fatz, Arby’s Zaxby’s, and a new QT gas station; there are 2 other gas stations at this intersection and a SC Department of Transportation maintenance shed. DOT has refused Clinton’s request to have this property deeded to the city.
This is the I-26 intersection with Hwy 72 – connecting Clinton to Whitmire, Chester and Charlotte to the northeast and Lake Greenwood/ Greenwood to the southwest.
Nature of the contract with Whitten Center was not specified at the Feb. 15 meeting.