PORT RICHEY — State Rep. John Legg got a look at the potential $89,229 severance package for outgoing City Manager Ellen Posivach and banged out a letter.
"Our office has serious concerns about the legality and ethics of granting such a large severance package to an individual who has not resigned and was not terminated," Legg wrote. "Agreeing to give a severance package worth nearly $90,000 to a city employee who you have been quoted as saying works from City Hall 'about two or three days a week' … is irresponsible."
Legg, a Republican whose district covers the city, faxed the letter from Tallahassee on Wednesday evening, urging Mayor Richard Rober to "reconsider" the potential payout. Posivach and the City Council agreed Tuesday to a "mutual separation" of the job that paid her, in salary and benefits, about $135,000 a year.
Council members have criticized Posivach for months, arguing she works too often from home, files excessively for compensatory time and keeps secret the clients she advises for her private business. Posivach was hired as city manager in June of 2009.
Legg asked his staff to look into ways the state could prevent the city payout, he said Thursday, adding that members had filed a public records request for Posivach's contract. The severance package, he said, symbolized "what's wrong with government."
"I just can't see an average constituent reading that without feeling kicked in the gut," Legg said. "We are investigating it, and we are looking for specific things to unring that bell."
Rober said Thursday he could "see the representative's concerns, without question," but he added that the city still had time to seek a potential compromise with Posivach.
"We have yet to even discuss her severance package," Rober said. "As far as I'm concerned, that's something that needs to be negotiated."
Posivach said she would leave any reaction to the letter to City Hall, which she will leave at the end of February.
"If it was to the mayor, it's going to be up to him, the City Council and the city attorney to respond," Posivach said.
Legg, the state House's speaker pro tempore, owns a home on Woodcrest Drive, on the outskirts of Port Richey. He filed to run for state Senate in 2012 this month.
Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 869-6244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.