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Former Richmond Mayor Jones authorized $226K in exit packages for appointees

RICHMOND, Va. -- Four members of former Mayor Dwight Jones’ team took home more than $226,000 when they left their jobs in city hall at the end of his term, according to numbers provided by the city.

The severance package for the appointees amounts to $166,000. In addition, the appointees also made another $60,000 in bonus money and vacation payout, bringing the total to $226,000 in exit pay.

The numbers show Jones’ Press Secretary, Tammy Hawley, took home more than $80,000 in severance pay, bonus money, and vacation payout.

Jones’ Executive Assistant, Cheryl Ivey Green, left with more than $64,000 in severance pay, bonus money and vacation payout.

Jones’ acting Chief of Staff, Mark Kronenthal, took home more than $30,000 in severance pay, bonus money and vacation payout.

And, Jones’ Deputy Chief of Staff, Don Mark, left with more than $47,000 in severance pay, bonus money and vacation payout.

CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit found out a city ordinance allows for the payouts.

“It’s something that was determined to be a means of assisting persons who are in discretionary employment situations,” former Mayor Rudy McCollum said.

The ordinance passed in 2004 during McCollum’s tenure, and it allows the mayor to give employees that he or she hires severance when they’re terminated.

“It’s something that one sees in private sector very often,” McCollum said.

McCollum argues the severances are a way to attract top talent to jobs that will likely be lost when a new mayor takes over.

“Given the fact that could occur so quickly and easily, what the severance package did was provide an opportunity for persons to then have some monies to tie them over so to speak, until they obtained new employment,” McCollum said.

He said it’s up to council to decide whether the ordinance should stay or go.

“I think council is in the position of determining even immediately whether it’s something that is continuous or not based upon its experience that it sees in terms of how these severance packages are being executed,” McCollum said.

Former Governor Doug Wilder, who was the Mayor before Dwight Jones, said he did not give out any discretionary severance payouts.

Jim Nolan, the spokesperson for current Mayor Levar Stoney, said in a statement:

“It’s unfortunate that it is going to impact how we staff the Mayor’s office in the near term. But we’re moving forward, and we’ll make it work.”

Nolan said that as of Thursday the severance and vacation payouts have not been processed. Those payments will be made on the next regular pay cycle.

Severance was computed on the basis of one month's pay for every full year of service in a permanent City position, or a pro rata part of a month's pay for any part-year of service to the City.  Severance pay is not to exceed salary payable for six months of service.