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Former GC Manager’s severance package worth more than $50K

GATESVILLE – Former Gates County Manager Natalie Rountree will receive in excess of $50,000 in salary and benefits in the wake of her recent termination.

At a special called meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners here Oct. 28, they unanimously agreed to severance pay to Rountree in the amount of $39,019.02. Per her contract with the county, that amount reflects three months severance pay plus one additional month of severance for every two full years of employment with the county.

Rountree was hired effective July 1, 2014 and her annual salary was $78,038 at the time of her firing on Oct. 21.

Additionally, Rountree will be paid $9,604.68 for her accrued vacation leave as well as her health insurance for the months of November, December and January at $716.24 per month. Both of those items were part of her contract, which also calls for the severance and vacation pay to be made as a single, lump sum payout within 30 days of Rountree’s termination.

All of that action came after a 95-minute closed session at last week’s special called meeting. In open session, the commissioners, on a motion from Jonathan Jones, approved Rountree’s severance package.

That open session also included a favorable vote to name the county’s tax administrator and interim county manager as land plat reviewers.

On a motion from Commissioner Althea Riddick – based on Article 3 (Section 3.2.1) of the county’s Personnel Ordinance – the pay range of that ordinance will be used to compensate the interim county manager. That ordinance reads:

When an employee is assigned to work in the capacity of a higher-level position, due to an anticipated or unanticipated absence, such employee shall be paid the minimum of the range for the position or five (5) percent of their current salary, whichever is greater, for assuming higher-level responsibilities. Once the position is filled or the employee holding it resumes their regular duties, the employee in the acting capacity shall be returned to their salary prior to serving in an acting capacity.

Diane Hendrix, the county’s Customer Service Department Director, was named by the commissioners on Oct. 21 to serve as interim county manager. Her salary was not immediately made available.

The commissioners also held discussion about the wording of the county manager’s vacancy announcement as well as the job description, both of which will be advertised as the board launches its search for Rountree’s replacement.

Among the items discussed for the job description were seeking a manager that had a strong track record in grant writing, economic development, tourism, and strategic planning.

“What is the timing of getting this put together and advertising this job announcement,” asked Commission Vice Chairman Jack Owens.

“I would suggest we draft a copy, share that draft, and make any changes,” said Riddick. “I don’t want to see us rush this [job announcement].”

The rest of the board agreed, scheduling a work session at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at the historic courthouse to draft the wording of the vacancy announcement, job description, and advertisements.

That meeting is open to the public, but live streaming will not be available.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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