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Smith resigning as city manager, placed on administrative leave

City leaders mum on what's next

April 23, 2014
Just two weeks after presenting his State of the City address, Gerald Smith has submitted his letter of resignation as Junction City Manager.

Smith submitted his letter following a special City Commission meeting Tuesday evening. No action was taken during the meeting or a two-hour executive session bookending a City Commission work session.

City officials acknowledged Smith signed a separation agreement and currently is on unpaid administrative leave.

It's now up to City Commissioners to accept and sign Smith's resignation. The agreement provides a 7-day waiting period before commissioners can accept it.

"I've said everything I needed to say," Smith said Wednesday at city hall. "I wish the community well."

Commissioners were not able to comment until Smith's resignation is accepted. The Daily Union reached out to Commissioners Cecil Aska, Mick McCallister, Mike Ryan and Jim Sands, but each declined to comment because Smith's resignation had not yet been accepted.

Ryan said Smith can revoke his resignation within the 7-day time span if he chooses.

City officials said a tentative meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, during which City Commissioners could consider what, if any, actions they'll take regarding Smith's resignation.

Smith, who was appointed by the City Commission in October 2013, came under fire after his State of the City address.

Following that speech, he received numerous comments from commissioners and the public, who said the speech was demeaning, anti-business and poorly delivered.

Smith made a public apology during April 15's City Commission meeting, saying it was not his intention to talk down to Junction City residents and had the city's best interests in mind.

"My job is to bring info to the City Commission," he said at the time. "My job is to provide them with where we are and where we need to be. The rest is up to the commission."

The Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce also was disappointed with Smith's speech, saying it was "anti-business to current and prospective businesses in Junction City and Geary County."

Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Weigand stated Wednesday the Chamber of Commerce supports the City Commission "during this difficult period," and will continue to support them moving forward.

"The community needs to come together to address how we attack infrastructure needs without adding additional burden on our business community," he stated. "The chamber is committed to a community partnership and will work to facilitate good community discussion to arrive at a consensus of what are our priorities and how they can be addressed in a timely manner."

Weigand emphasized Smith's comments that Junction City residents "are all in this together so we need to plan and work together."

In a statement to the Daily Union published Saturday, Smith said he would be willing to step aside if necessary to let City Commissioners move forward without distractions.

There also was no word whether Smith would receive a severance or settlement package.

His contract states if Smith is "terminated without cause," he shall receive a severance payment equal to six months' salary at his current rate of pay, or $55,000. That payment would be required to be issued in a single payment unless otherwise authorized.

Smith's contract does not include any stipulations if he were to resign.

The Daily Union also contacted Junction City's attorney, Katie Logan, but she was unavailable for comment.

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