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Travel Guides – Is former Tarrant water district GM entitled to $300K payment? His lawyer thinks so

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The lawyer representing the former normal supervisor of the Tarrant Regional Water District says the $300,000 publish-retirement compensation granted his shopper in March is a protected profit, regardless of the board’s vote earlier this week to revoke the cost.

At a Tuesday special meeting, the board introduced that former board president Jack Stevens had unilaterally granted outgoing normal supervisor Jim Oliver an exception to the water district’s paid break day coverage. That exception, confirmed in emails obtained beneath a Texas Public Information request, would have allowed Oliver to financial institution thrice the standard most of unused paid break day.

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The additional compensation would have amounted to a couple of yr’s wage for Oliver.

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On Tuesday, board president Leah King described the association as unwise and probably unlawful, and the board voted unanimously to revoke the deliberate cost.

But Jason Smith, the Fort Worth legal professional representing Oliver, informed the Star-Telegram on Thursday it seems the extra compensation was organized in an acceptable method. In Smith’s view, which means the board can’t simply stroll again the association.

“It appears that the board policy was followed with advice from legal counsel and the Texas constitution protects employee benefits that were granted to employees,” Smith stated.

In arguing that Stevens was permitted to make the association with Oliver, Smith pointed to a clause on the finish of the district’s paid depart coverage. That clause states that “Exceptions to this policy may be made by the General Manager, Deputy General Manager, Assistant General Manager, or Board Members at any time.”

In a March 8 memo obtained by the Star-Telegram, Stevens additionally cited the district’s coverage, writing that he was directing Oliver’s exception beneath “the authority granted by the Tarrant Regional Water District Paid Leave Policy.”

King, the board president, declined to touch upon Smith’s involvement or the competition that the deliberate cost was protected. The water district, via a spokesperson, additionally declined to remark.

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But King has raised considerations that Stevens didn’t convey the compensation association earlier than the board as a complete.

Lawyers for the district are conducting an “inquiry” into the state of affairs, King beforehand informed the Star-Telegram. She stated it was not clear when it could be full.

Smith, who stated Thursday was his first day on the case, stated he plans to organize a gathering with the water district in just a few days.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to reaching a positive solution with the water district over this situation,” Smith stated.

‘A financial dilemma’

Less than a month earlier than the compensation association, inside emails obtained by the Star-Telegram present that Oliver had initially supposed to stay because the water district’s normal supervisor for an extra yr.

Oliver, who led the water district for 35 years, formally stepped down from the position on Wednesday. That allowed then-deputy normal supervisor Dan Buhman to step into the highest job after the board voted unanimously in May to rent him.

On Feb. 11, Oliver wrote an e mail to the district’s board members, saying his impending retirement in June 2021.

“Isn’t that 2022,” Stevens, then-board president, wrote again.

In response, Oliver defined that two different board members had thought it greatest to rent a brand new normal supervisor in 2021 after which enable Oliver to stay and help with the transition for a yr.

“Would you consider a shorter window for being senior advisor than June 2022 if the Board chooses that?” responded board member Marty Leonard.

Jim Oliver had been General Manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District for 35 years.

In a a number of-paragraph response to Leonard’s message, which he really despatched to an e mail deal with along with his final title and first preliminary, Oliver defined that he was stepping down in 2021 so as “not to lose Dan [Buhman] and give him a shot at the general manager’s position.”

In stepping down a yr early, Oliver wrote, he had thought he would have the opportunity to stay with the water district — probably beneath the title of senior advisor — till summer season 2022.

Parting with the district earlier “leaves me in a financial dilemma,” Oliver wrote, pointing to the district’s change in retirement plans. “My retirement scenarios work if I retire June, 2022.”

Documents from the water district present that Oliver was incomes about $325,000, after his wage was elevated in fall 2020.

“I’ve devoted 35 years to the district. I believe I’ve contributed to TRWD today having the reputation in the water community statewide and nationwide as being one of the best of the best,” Oliver wrote. “My last year, under whatever title’ will continue to be productive.”

‘My door is open’

As the water district’s board grapples with the compensation association to the former normal supervisor, a brand new chief took the reins on Thursday.

Buhman stated in a Thursday interview that he plans to use his new place to redouble efforts towards openness.

“I think we have a great opportunity here, going forward,” Buhman stated. “I think that’s an opportunity to look forward, to not look back and to say ‘How can we be the best organization we can be?’”

But whereas Buhman has stepped into the district’s prime position in the course of an issue, he stated that he isn’t straight concerned within the matter besides when the board asks him to be. For occasion, he stated, the board requested him to advocate and rent a regulation agency to conduct the inquiry into the Stevens-Oliver association.

Buhman stated he advisable after which employed the agency Thompson & Horton, which isn’t the district’s typical regulation agency, due to a need for a “fresh set of eyes” and “somebody totally independent.”

So far, Buhman stated, his involvement has ended there.

“Really this is an issue for the board of directors. As staff, I just provide support where they want it or they need it,” he stated.

Nevertheless, Buhman stated he’s intent on making a tradition of transparency and openness.

The new normal supervisor stated he plans to begin by reviewing the water district’s insurance policies and narrowing in on areas that want to be up to date or rewritten. He additionally plans to construct rapport with neighborhood leaders and residents.

“I’m committed to open, transparent communication,” Buhman stated. “My door is open to people who want to understand what the water district does and why.”

He added that, by revoking the Stevens-Oliver association on Tuesday, the board of administrators despatched a message that it is usually intent on transparency.

“I would say, let’s look to the future and you’ll see our commitment to openness and transparency will become a reality. You’re seeing that already signaled and now we’re going to do the hard work to make sure it comes true,” Buhman stated.

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