The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Wakefield council finalizes contract for new manager


February 12, 2019

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

AT A MONDAY evening meeting of the Wakefield city council, Mayor John Granato studies paperwork while city clerk Sue Ahonen takes notes.


Wakefield - Wakefield city council members voted Monday evening to accept a counter offer from Robert Brown, Jr., who was their first choice for a new city manager.

Brown interviewed with the council on Jan. 14, and the council voted to offer him the position on Jan. 23. The "at-will" employment contract is for three years, with an option to renew for a fourth year.

Annual salary will be $51,000 in the first year and will rise gradually to $62,000 if Brown, who is from Belding, Mich., opts to stay a fourth year.

Mayor John Granato said after the meeting that Brown's starting date is still flexible, but he hopes he will be able to train with current city manager Richard Brackney, who intends to retire as of May 24.

"We haven't had confirmation from him," said the mayor regarding Brown, but he added, "He was fully in agreement. He was excited to start." Granato added that Brown was confident the council would accept his counter offer, which included provisions for severance pay in the event of his termination.

The "at-will" terms of Brown's contract are described in the contract as follows:

"Employee is an at-will employee who may be terminated by Employer at any time without reason. Employee may also terminate this contract without reason. Terminations shall be accomplished by way of written notice given at least thirty (30) days prior to termination taking effect. No notice is required if the Agreement terminates naturally at the end of Year 3 or Year 4."

At the request of Brown, the council also added to his contract a modification to pay him 30 days of severance pay if he is terminated within the first six months, with an additional 30 days to be added after one year of employment and again after two years.

Additionally, the contract states that, after six months of employment, Brown will not receive severance pay if he "is discharged for just cause, including but not limited to, deliberate misconduct, intentional discrimination, gross negligence, or conviction of a felony."

If Brown terminates his own employment, he must provide 30 days of notice, and he will receive no severance pay.

The contract further reads, "It is expressly understood that the City Manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council."

Brown's contract also allows for a relocation stipend of $4,500, which must be reimbursed on a pro-rated basis if he terminates his job within 12 months of being hired.

If he accepts the final terms, the new manager also will receive about $1,500 per month in additional stipends to cover expenses of local business travel, cell phone service and dues for professional organizations.

Brown also will be entitled to the same health care, dental and vision coverage as other city employees. A retirement plan and other benefits such as vacation and leave also will be commensurate with other employees.

The 36-year-old Brown has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in political science with a concentration in campaign leadership from Southern New Hampshire University.

He works with the three-county Fred Meijer River Valley Trail in Belding while also engaging in political campaign organizing.


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