Contract would make it easier to fire, discipline Hillsborough County Administrator
It will be a whole lot easier to fire the Hillsborough County administrator without having to pay severance, under proposed final contract terms that go to commissioners Wednesday.
Commissioners approved the main contract terms with County Administrator Mike Merrill relating to pay and benefits during their last meeting two weeks ago. County Attorney Renee Lee is scheduled to present the formal document to commissioners Wednesday. It includes some new language not included in earlier drafts.
Among the more salient bits is language broadening the definition of the sorts of actions by Merrill that could constitute cause to justify firing him without having to provide severance. It addition to conviction of a crime, misfeasance, malfeasance and neglect of duty, the new draft would include "exhibited incompetence; or continued rendering of unsatisfactory service, after instruction and/or counseling," under the definition of cause. There is also language, requested by Commissioner Kevin Beckner, that would enable the board to suspend him without pay for up to 30 days.
Commissioners have expressed a desire to make it easier to fire the administrator without a large payout in response to more generous terms given to prior administrator Pat Bean. That contract entitled Bean to up to a year of pay and benefits -- a payout nearly worth $500,000 -- if fired for pretty much anything short of committing a crime, though commissioners ultimately gave her less than that. Merrill would only get a half-year's pay, but not his full benefit package.