Letters to the Editor

November 3, 2005

The Sweetest

Deal Yet

To the editor:

Wow! Could it get any sweeter than this? I'm referring to the Employment Agreement Forest Park Mayor Chuck Hall “negotiated” with City Manager Bill Werner. I'm curious what's Hall's “negotiation” cost the city in 2004. Does he even know? Nah,, probably not. I must give a hand to Werner. The severance package in his agreement is nothing short of “sweet.” It appears no one bothered to contact the previous mayors before hiring Mr. Werner. If they had, they would have learned of the circumstances surrounding the controversial departures from the two previous cities,

Toledo, Ohio and Kansas City, Kansas. It was no secret for both cities the major newspapers printed a series of articles in which the legality of the severance packages Werner received were questioned. Toledo's mayor attempted to legally force the return of the money and KS's mayor didn't even find out he had received money until after Werner was gone (a new job here) and it was to late.. Our mayor, “Chuck” Hall, gave him the whole enchilada, and then some. It seems that if certain individuals were to even mention “termination” Werner would get to collect his severance in full. How sweet is that?

OK, time to lend the mayor a hand and crunch a few numbers. If I'm not mistaken...in 2004, Bill received $105,376.76 (annual base pay automatically increasing 5 percent annually with no performance evaluation), plus $23,342.88 (22 percent of his salary in a retirement plan), plus $2,990.45 (employer contributions to 457 plan), plus $1080 (life insurance), plus $10,560.18 (medical coverage for him and his dependents) and an additional $16,579.84 (if he cashed in his vacation, holiday and sick days, as he has done historically). The agreement allows Werner to set his own work schedule. Wow! Wouldn't you like to get paid double time for being sick? Sweet.

How about aside from receiving his annual pay increase, he gets another increase whenever the city employees or directors get their raise. Mayor Hall is that why you signed Werner's contact two weeks before giving the employees their 3 percent raise? A 3 percent raise on top of his initial raise? Milk it dry, Werner.

Let's not forget the $3,847.46 for automotive expenses of which $1,626.75 is gasoline and equals about $31.28 a week or $6.25 a workday. How many roundtrips to work ) Peachtree City to Forest Park), driving the Ford Crown Vic (supplied by the city) does that equal to per week? I could go on and on about what this agreement is costing the taxpayers, but long letters to the editor usually aren't published. So, let's settle for a rough estimate. The subtotal so far is Cha-ching...$163,876.64. Ay Carbuba. Mayor Hall. Stop all negotiations. At this is rate we'll be broke before Christmas (if we aren't already). Let's hope all the other contracts Hall was given the authority to negotiate turned out better than this one. Does this mean “someone” will, as historically has occurred, pressure the police and code enforcers to bear down on the citizens so that fines and forfeitures can balance the budget? What were council members Estes, Lord and Halcome thinking when they voted for this albatross? Surely they read it first. Nah, probably not. And, as usual, the pleas from council members Judson and Youmans, not approval this “embarrassment” were ignored. Egad, I almost forgot! Werner received another 5 percent unconditionally guaranteed annual increase this past July. I guess it's back to the drawing board. You really should read this agreement. After all, it is public record.

P.S. The Dec. 31, 2202 study/development plan for the Atlanta State Farmer's Market depicted Forest Park as one of the region's largest ‘poverty pockets.' Of course, this study was spearheaded by Hall and funded by us poor taxpaying citizens. Can FP really afford Mr. Werner's executive and administrative skills as his salary grows at this exponential rate? Think about it.

Bob Youman

Forest Park