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Danville City Council approves changes to city manager's contract
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Danville City Council approves changes to city manager's contract

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Danville City Council voted to change its contract with the City Manager Ken Larking to enable him to transfer 14 years of accumulated sick leave and retirement assets from his previous jobs for local governments in North Carolina.  

The change also adds two months of severance — from four months to six — if he were to be terminated for no reason. 

The vote was 8-0 during council's regular meeting Tuesday night. Councilman Madison Whittle was absent.

Before the vote, City Council member Sherman Saunders pointed out such provisions for city managers are routine. 

"This is nothing new," he said, adding that previous Danville city managers had those items included in their contracts.

Addressing questions brought up by residents, council member Lee Vogler asked how much the changes would cost. 

Sara Weller, human resources director, said she did not know how much the cost would be to absorb Larking's accumulated retirement assets.

The city first would have to determine how much value Danville's retirement system would assign to Larking's accumulated assets under the North Carolina Local Government Employees' Retirement System. 

Individual retirement systems assign different value to assets, she said. 

"Once we get that [amount], we will be able to roll that into our system and determine the difference," she said.

Larking has about 900 accumulated hours of sick leave — effectively 22.5 work weeks — from his previous employment, and Weller told the Danville Register & Bee on Wednesday that an actuary would have to evaluate the sick leave to find out what the city's cost would be to transfer those hours into its system. 

"There's a conversion we use to credit sick leave to years of service," Weller said. "It might be different from what they used in North Carolina.

"If I have 40 hours of sick leave, that doesn't just equal five days of retirement."

Just before council's vote, council member James Buckner said, "This is about retention. This is about retaining a good man in the right position."

Larking has worked for the city since 2013, first as deputy city manager before becoming city manager in 2016. 

His current salary is $177,019 per year. 

"I appreciate the vote of confidence in the change to my contract," Larking told council before praising the work of Deputy City Manager Earl Reynolds, department heads and council.

Juneteenth holiday added

Council voted, 8-0, to establish Juneteenth as an observed holiday for city employees. Juneteenth marks the date of June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were the last in the former Confederacy to find out they had been freed.

This aligns the city with the state, which last June made the date a state holiday. This will bring to 15.5 the total of paid holidays for city employees, matching Pittsylvania County.

"We like to be mindful and inclusive of the holidays," Weller told the Register & Bee. "When the state formalized Juneteenth as a holiday, we felt it was appropriate for us to do the same."

Just like any other paid holiday, this will cost the city about $253,000 in lost productivity, Weller said. But that money is budgeted as a part of workers' annual salaries anyway, she said.

Caesars certified  

Council voted, 8-0, to certify Caesars Entertainment as the city's preferred casino gaming operator and authorize Mayor Alonzo Jones to submit the city's certification of the company to the Virginia Lottery Department.

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