AIKEN - Aiken County's top candidate to fill its nearly year-long administrator vacancy was let go from his last job, according to a York County councilman.
Clay Killian received a hefty severance package after leaving his post as York County's manager in February 2000. In total, Mr. Killian was paid $154,669, according to records obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.
That includes severance pay of $92,446 - a full year's salary; $46,223 for consulting services to the county; and $16,000 to be paid out as part of his last check for 45 days' annual leave.
The terms of Mr. Killian's original employment agreement did not provide for any severance pay should he resign, The (Rock Hill) Herald reported.
York County councilman Buddy Motz remained tight-lipped about Mr. Killian's departure.
"I really still can't get into any details as to the reason that he left because it was confidential," Mr. Motz said. "There was an agreement reached between him and the county council for his termination."
But another councilman, Tom Burton Sr., said Mr. Killian's termination had to do with politics.
"There was no wrongdoing, I can tell you that. Period," he said. "He's not one that would participate in any wrongdoing. I think it was a matter of style and management, whereby certain members on the council disagreed with his style of management, not saying he was wrong or they were right. To say politics do not get in it is ludicrous, because it does."
After learning about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Killian's departure from York County, Aiken County Councilman Willar Hightower said his mind is still made up.
"It sounds like there was something going on there, but it wasn't any character problem," he said. "I still support an offer."
Mr. Killian said Tuesday that after 13 years in York County, six as its manager, it was time for him to move on.
"There comes a time in this business when you know it's time to leave," he said. "We reached a mutual agreement for me to depart."
According to The Herald, people who followed the York County Council said a number of smaller issues might have added up, building resentment among some council members against Mr. Killian and overshadowing his success.
Those issues included the county's 1993 contract with Fort Mill, which obligated it to purchase water at $1.65 per 1,000 gallons - about 66 cents more than Fort Mill pays to get the water from Rock Hill.
As administrator, Mr. Killian helped negotiate that contract. The county had to renegotiate the deal.
Another issue was funding related to the county roads projects being paid for by an additional 1-cent sales tax. County staff estimated those projects would cost $99.2 million.
After voters approved the tax, consultants said those projects could cost up to $33 million more than anticipated. Mr. Motz said the county has about a $24 million shortfall now. If that funding can't be found, some projects at the bottom of the priority list won't get done.
Reach Katie Throne at (803) 279-6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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