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Council accepts resignation of City Manager

By Scott Harvey

Commerce – Following a 35 minute executive session, the Commerce City Council Tuesday voted unanimously to accept the resignation of City Manger Dion Miller, effective April 15.

Richard Hill made a motion to approve full and final settlement agreement with the reinstatement of the City Manager and then for the immediate acceptance of his resignation. Tony Henry seconded the motion, and council voted 5-0 in favor of the measure.

The agenda item to reinstate Miller was requested by Mayor Quay Throgmorton, after learning last week that Miller's suspension was in fact valid.

"I thought there's no reason to be paying a city manager his full salary while he's suspended indefinitely," said Throgmorton. "I thought then as opposed to it being an indefinite suspension let's call for a reinstatement."

The Mayor, in a March 24 memorandum, had claimed Miller's employment agreement, Particularly Section 3 titled Suspension, was illegal because it violated the City Charter. Throgmorton felt the Charter is the prevailing document upon which all other documents governing the City should be drafted. However, Attorney Jim McLeroy would later state the Charter does not define all powers of a city or an acting city council, therefore making the suspension valid.

Throgmorton said Tuesday night's decision was ultimately made due to financial concerns long term, saying this was the "less expensive alternative." He indicated it would have continued to cost the city while the suspension was in place. A potential lawsuit would have also resulted in additional costs, had there been one made following a possible termination of the City Manager.

"In the long range benefit of the city this is the best course of action, and it's something that Mr. Miller agreed to," said Throgmorton.

Miller was hired as city manager in June 2008 following the resignation of Bill Shipp.

Director of Administrative Services Marc Clayton will continue to serve as Interim City Manager. There was no immediate time table on when or if a search for a new city manager will take place. Mayor Throgmorton, along with Councilman Richard Hill believes it would be best to wait until after the May 8 elections to look into the matter.

"This is a chapter in the book that the council voted to close tonight. As in any form of government; city, county, state, we have plenty of things to keep us busy and plenty of problems to work on," said Hill. "The past problems that have incurred with the City Manager, they're over now."

Councilman Tony Henry says it's now time for the council to look toward the future.

"We're the five elected council members, and we need to band together now and move forward."

Details of the settlement agreement were not immediately available. City Attorney Jim McLeroy says the document will be made public this week.

Council suspended Miller by a 3-2 vote on March 4, after Councilwoman Billie Biggerstaff requested an item be placed on the agenda citing concern for the City Manager's leadership abilities, "people" skills, and methods of management.