Salisbury City Manager Booted After Closed Session
The city of Salisbury now has an interim city manager. That's because two weeks ago, city council members effectively fired former city manager Doug Paris.
The city's communications director resigned the next day.
On Main Street, Salisbury business owners say there's a lot of mystery surrounding the sudden dismissal of former city manager Doug Paris.
Von Poston of Salisbury Square Antiques And Collectibles says his customers bring it up every day. Here are their general feelings:
"Uncertainty. Disbelief. Rumor. Gossip," Poston says. "Not knowing and would like to know what happened."
We don't know a whole lot. There was no indication before the meeting on June 17 that Paris would lose his job by the end of the night.
Mayor Paul Woodson made this announcement after a five-hour closed session:
Action was taken tonight - the contract between the city and the city manager has been mutually terminated.
Paris had one year left on his contract and received $205,000 in severance. That amount was spelled out in his contract.
The next day, the city's communication director, Elaney Hasselmann, resigned effective immediately.
She was making $83,000 a year and received a $30,000 severance package. That amount was agreed upon by city administrators.
Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer, himself a Salisbury resident, says the sudden departures have been the talk of the town.
"It's been kind of a real shock and, but then the big questions continue to be the severance package, the size of it," Bitzer says. "And then also the severance package for the public information officer and her salary."
Council members won't discuss why Paris was terminated.
Paris, who is 30 years old, had one year left on his three-year contract. He was making $135,000 a year. He began working for the city as an intern in 2006 earning $13 an hour.
Scott Cannon, the owner of an alternative clothing store called Dead Ed's, says he's suspicious of council's motives.
"A lot of people love what Doug was doing downtown. I know I did," Cannon says. "Doug was not a yes man. He was a supporter of small business in downtown, which we enjoyed. I think he was done wrongly."
Assistant city manager John Sofley was named interim city manager. Sofley says there's no hurry to hire a permanent replacement.