ZEPHYRHILLS — Zephyrhills City Manager Jim Drumm is prepared to resign and has a severance package proposal to present to city council members.
An item on the council’s agenda calls for setting a date for a special meeting to consider “the proposed resignation of the city manager and work out a severance agreement.” The item was placed on the agenda by Councilman Charlie Proctor.
Proctor said he hasn’t seen Drumm’s resignation proposal, but knows that Drumm will present one to council members. Proctor said he will not approve the city manager’s proposal unless Drumm signs an agreement not to sue the city.
“I want to be fair to both parties,” he said.
Drumm said Friday that he is confident he will be leaving. “I’m still trying to amicably work it out,” he said.
If his proposal is accepted, Drumm said he would be willing to resign before his contract period is over.
“I believe we can come to a resolution,” he said “I’d be surprised if we couldn’t.”
Drumm’s job has been in jeopardy since the March 10 city council meeting after Council President Lance Smith and Councilman Ken Burgess expressed their intentions to not approve a new contract, which would end the city manager’s employment with the city.
City Attorney Joe Poblick had issued a legal opinion that Drumm’s contract will expire in May, and four council votes were needed to renew the contract. Proctor also said he was not in favor of renewing the contract.
Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson, who was defeated in Tuesday’s election, asked for two additional legal opinions on the issue. The latest legal opinion regarding Drumm’s contract confirmed that Poblick was correct in his earlier assessment.
The third legal opinion was written by Heather B. Brock of Fowler White Boggs. Brock writes that after reviewing the city charter, Drumm’s contract and various audio recordings sent to her for analysis: “In short it is our opinion that the city manager’s employment ends on May 18, 2014 at the expiration of the term of the current agreement.”
The opinion states that renewal of the contract would require approval by four council members.
“I wasn’t surprised,” said Poblick. “I was confident in my analysis, but it is nice to have another attorney agree.”
Drumm said at the March 10 meeting that if Poblick’s opinion prevailed, he might have to “get counsel.”
Drumm said Friday that he is not going to threaten a lawsuit. “I don’t want to divide the community,” he said.
He said he believes he is still the city manager even if his contract expired and has two attorneys that hold that legal opinion — contrary to the three received by the city. However, he added, even if he could win the day, he still would not want to stay under conditions of a broken relationship with potentially three city council members.