Then-Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones authorized $166,000 in severance payments to four high-level members of his staff before he left office at the end of December.
The payments will come out of the budget of new Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration, and represent about 10 percent of budgeted expenditures for the mayor’s office and the office of the press secretary.
“It’s unfortunate that it is going to impact how we staff the mayor’s office in the near term,” said Stoney’s press secretary, Jim Nolan. “But we’re moving forward and we’ll make it work.”
Jones did not respond to a request for comment left earlier this week with an assistant at First Baptist Church of South Richmond, where he serves as senior pastor. She said he is on vacation this week.
The appointees, whose term of employment ended with the mayor’s administration, were not automatically entitled to severance payments. But Jones had the authority under city code to authorize the payments.
Jones’ press secretary, Tammy Hawley, was paid $63,000. His executive assistant, Cheryl Ivey Green, was paid $49,000. His senior policy adviser and chief of staff, Mark Kronenthal, was paid $19,000. His deputy chief of staff, Don Mark, was paid $35,000.
Ivey Green works with Jones at First Baptist Church, where she holds the title executive minister of ministries, according to the church’s website.
Nolan said the payments have not been made yet but will be included in the city’s next pay cycle. The four are also being paid a combined $57,000 for unused vacation time, though Nolan said such payouts are standard practice at the city.
In his emailed statement, Nolan did not address whether Stoney has the power to cancel the payments. He did not respond to two emails seeking further comment and was not reachable by telephone.
Nolan said the payments were calculated per city code at a rate of one month’s pay for each year the employee worked for the city, up to a maximum of half the employee’s total annual salary.
Under the code, severance payments are typically made to employees who are terminated for “any reason other than malfeasance.”
Jones already faced criticism for his decision to authorize $1.9 million in bonuses last month for city employees for what he called an “end of year/end of term thank you.”
Jones lacked the authority to unilaterally authorize the bonuses, according to City Attorney Allen Jackson, who said the action required the approval of the City Council.
City Council members have expressed concern publicly but said it was unlikely they would pursue attempting to recoup the money from either city employees or Jones.
Stoney, who will be left to reconcile the books when the fiscal year ends in June, criticized the bonus as fiscally irresponsible given the city’s tight finances.