Danville has spent more than $300,000 on city manager-related matters in less than 11 months, according to financial documents obtained through an open records request, and still does not have a permanent replacement for Paul Stansbury.
In May, Stansbury was fired in a 3-2 vote that alleged he failed to provide strong and proactive leadership, did not adequately manage the city’s cemeteries, failed to instruct and guide city commissioners in a timely manner about the expansion of the water plant, and did not follow the city’s procurement policy on at least two occasions. Stansbury settled with the city after a brief period of legal disputes.
Recent audits conducted for the period in which he served showed no financial irregularities.
Between May 12 and July 11, the city paid Stansbury $66,197.42 including a $40,000 legal settlement, wages, unused vacation time and holiday pay, records show. In January, Stansbury received a check for $50,491. Since Stansbury’s termination, the city has spent an additional $10,666 for his medical benefits and $480 for his dental plan. Officials also paid the northern Kentucky law firm Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing $4,055.48 to handle Stansbury’s wrongful termination dispute.
But while the city has been paying Stansbury for duties the City Commission voted he could no longer perform, it also has paid two other temporary city managers as well as the expenses associated with searching for a new permanent city manager.
Former Mayor John W.D. Bowling earned $14,468 between June 23 and Sept. 1 for his service as interim city manager, according to records. While he did not take any health insurance benefits, the city had to pay the Lexington law firm Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney $5,143.92 to handle a situation in which a city employee allegedly made a death threat against Bowling.
The city regularly uses the services of Danville law firm Sheehan, Barnett, Dean, Pennington & Little, but since the attorneys deal with a number of city personnel matters it would be difficult to determine how many billed hours applied specifically to the city manager issues.
Ron Scott, the current interim city manager, has applied for the position. Scott earned $41,544 between Sept. 15 and March 29, and the city paid $7,106.88 for his health insurance and $5,005 for state retirement benefits.
Mayor Bernie Hunstad said Thursday that most of the money paid to Stansbury was part of his severance package. Most of the other fees would have been paid to a city manager anyway, the mayor noted.
Resident Mark Morgan said the figures calculated by a reporter using city financial records were similar to numbers he had come up with on his own, and he is greatly concerned that the lack of a permanent city manager will jeopardize the slated $27.5 million water expansion project. The effort, scheduled to begin in September, will increase Danville’s daily pumping capacity to 12 million gallons from the current 10 million gallons.
“Stansbury was the only one (of the three interim or permanent city managers) who had the training and the knowledge necessary to guide this city in the right direction,” Morgan said. “All we’ve done is set ourselves up for a major project without a responsible captain guiding the ship.”
Hunstad said it will probably take a few more weeks to hire a city manager, but it will be completed in plenty of time for the water expansion project.
Resident J.P. Brantley said he was “not surprised” at the financial figures.
“Now maybe people will see how much this mess has cost the city,” Brantley said. “We had a perfectly good city manager in Stansbury. Our current interim city manager seems to be taking orders from somebody, but I’m not sure whom.”
Morgan said the water expansion project is not just about water or money, but creating jobs for future generations as well as maintaining the health of community members.
“This is not a time to be throwing away taxpayer dollars,” Morgan said.