Golden Parachutes at City Hall

Way back ten years ago, there was a battle being in fought in Keller over City Managers Golden Parachutes.  Seems Lyle Dresser had negotiated a 230 day severance package and when it was found to be in violation of the City Charter, he was forced to renegotiate his contract.  It wasn’t long after that he left Keller.  This wasn’t a small deal, it caused a huge uproar in town.  At the basis of the argument was why would you give a public servant such a large severance package?  It makes them nearly impossible to fire, and therefore less likely to respond to citizen and council input.


Lyle was known for his top down management style.


Our current City Manager is a protégé of Lyle, and was present in Keller for that battle.  But do you know what?


When Mark Hafner signed his contract two years ago, your Keller City Council granted him three years severance…..over $600,000….if he was fired.  It basically meant that Mark couldn’t be fired without getting a huge payout.  I had one council member state to me that their consultant was telling them that nobody would come to Keller, that it was a mess.  And to get Mark to stay on as City Manager, they would need to put the clause in the contract.  I call BS.


This is the same consultant that has steadily driven up City Manager contracts in the area for the last two decades.  He was the same guy that found O’Leary ten years ago when “nobody would come to Keller.”


Mark has wanted the City Manager’s job forever.  He currently tells the story as if they all came to him and said it was “hit time”.


The Golden Parachute is absolutely absurd.  There are only two remaining councilmembers from that period….Armin Minzani and Debbie Bryan.  Both are up for reelection next year and we will make sure they have to answer to the voters for this absurd use of tax payer funds.


In the meantime, the current council should demand that Mark renegotiate his contract.  And if he refuses?  Then the council will know what kind of man he really is and can work to force the renegotiation.


Just to put this in perspective, Dan O’Leary had no severance package in his contract (in an arguably more volatile time) and Steve Polasek had 90 days.  Steve’s current contract in Cleburne has a 90 day package.  (Steve, with over four years experience as a City Manager also make 10% less than what we are paying Hafner).


Hafner’s contract does have a provision that drops the severance to 2 years after his first 24 months  We should feel so blessed that we taxpayers would only have to pay $400,000 to fire the City Manager if so chose.


I won’t even get into the fact that we are paying a yearly salary that is over $200,000 for a first time City Manager.



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