UPDATED Council approves settlement with former city manager
Updated 1:30 p.m.
The city council has okayed a separation agreement with former City Manager Debra Kurita, who resigned from the city on February 26 following a series of lengthy, closed-door performance evaluations and weeks of rumors about her departure.
Per the agreement, Kurita will remain on the city payroll for six months, receiving her salary and benefits. She’ll also have up to 24 months to sell her East End home, which was paid for in part with a $250,000 loan from the city. The agreement lists her resignation date as March 13.
Kurita was hired on August 1, 2005, and the term of her contract was through July 31, 2011. The contract says Kurita is entitled to six months pay and benefits if she is terminated by the council without cause. It also says that if the council requests Kurita’s resignation, “then Kurita may, at her option, deem herself terminated without cause.”
A resignation e-mail Kurita sent to city staff said that she was resigning because she and the city council agreed on the city’s goals but not how to achieve them.
“The decision to take the city’s management in a new direction was an amicable decision. And we wish her well in her future endeavors,” Mayor Beverly Johnson said after reporting that the council, which discussed the agreement in closed session, had voted unanimously to approve it.
The resignation agreement says that both the city and Kurita, “while maintaining their respective legal positions, wish to resolve this disputed matter without the necessity of additional proceedings, legal fees and costs.” In it, both the city and Kurita pledge not to sue each other.
She will be paid $8,990.92 every two weeks through September 12 and will also receive medical and dental benefits. (She’s also due about $35,000 before taxes for the 374 hours of vacation she’s racked up.)
The separation agreement also gives Kurita until March 2011 to sell the home she purchased in part with a loan from the city. The home carries a $782,000 mortgage plus a $250,000 loan from the city. The agreement says it has a fair market value of between $840,000 and $890,000.
In responding to an e-mail request for comment, Kurita said she was honored to serve as Alameda’s city manager and that she’s proud of the accomplishments she shared with the council and city staff over her three and a half years in the job. Her list included addressing issues with the city’s former telecom system, developing and implementing a range of budget-balancing strategies and completing an array of capital projects, including the Alameda Theatre and parking complex and the new Alameda Free Library.
Kurita, who said she is exploring a variety of career options, thanked the community for allowing her to serve and wished the council and staff well in dealing with the challenges ahead.
“The downturn in the economy has impacted the ability of the City of Alameda, and every city in the State and nation, to generate the resources to support the various services that the City provides. The City will continue to face a number of fiscal and operational challenges,” she said.
The council also met in closed session to discuss an interim city manager, but didn’t take any action. From where I was sitting, it looked like the council members, City Attorney Teresa Highsmith, Acting City Manager David Brandt – and Interim Finance Director Ann Marie Gallant – were in the room.