WAXAHACHIE — As the City of Waxahachie begins the search for a new city manager, details have come to light with the release of the separation agreement signed by Paul Stevens.

Stevens, along with four of the five city council members, agreed to a separation agreement during a specially called session on Aug. 25. Since his departure as city manager, Waxahachie Assistant City Manager Michael Scott has been named as the interim.

The Terms

According to the separation agreement and general release document, the city agreed to pay Stevens a lump sum cash payment that is equivalent to his current gross annual salary of $196,265.91. Along with that, the city agreed to pay additional wages of $45,000 plus all benefits including an annual car allowance and 720 hours of accumulated sick leave. The total lump sum awarded to Stevens was $317,089.11.

The city also agreed to pay for Stevens and his dependents health insurance under COBRA for one year, to pay $10,609 in Stevens’ deferred compensation account, reimburse him for expenses for planning to attend the Texas Municipal League and the International City Manager’s Association conferences, and reimburse him up to $5,000 in legal fees associated with the separation.

By signing the agreement, Stevens agreed to release the city from all claims, complaints, liabilities, damages, causes of action, suits, rights, costs and expenses of any nature. He also agreed not to bring any legal action against the city and releases the city from any claim prior to the separation agreement.

Stevens promised to keep the agreement confidential and not to disclose its terms without prior written consent from Mayor Kevin Strength. The city agreed that Stevens can inform his immediate family and also his attorney, accountant, and CPA or taxing authorities of the existence and terms of this agreement.

The document stated that the Stevens and his family wouldn’t publicly disparage the city. In return, the city agrees not to do the same to Stevens. It also states that Stevens had to return all city property.

Stevens also had to turn in a letter of resignation as a part of the agreement, which he wrote on official city letterhead, "Dear Mayor Strength, I am resigning from employment with the City of Waxahachie effective Aug. 28."

The separation agreement notes Stevens' voluntary resignation as the sole reason behind his departure and that he is eligible for rehire. It also explains that the city will not contest any claim filed by Stevens for unemployment benefits with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Stevens was given the separation agreement on Aug. 25 and had 21 days to sign it in the presence of a notary public. He then was required to deliver it to Waxahachie City Secretary Lori Saunders. Payments would not be made to Stevens until after the seven-day revocation period had passed.

The separation document was signed on Aug. 25. On Sept. 5, Stevens signed the document, indicating he had not revoked the agreement, not filed a complaint, charge, or lawsuit against the city.

Contract extension?

Four months before Stevens left the city, his contract as the city manager was renewed by the Waxahachie City Council

A document found in the separation agreement shows his contract was extended by three years, running Jan. 1, 2018 – Dec. 31, 2020.

After the Aug. 25 city council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Mark Singleton stated that Stevens is a great man who has done great things for the city, but he is not the person to lead the city into the future.

“I so wish that I could say so much more. Everything can and possibly does get taken out of context. Any time that there is an employee difference you just can’t discuss those. That is the saddest thing about this,” Singleton said previously. “There is a concern of innuendo and back-channel stuff. That is not the case. Politically this probably says a big thing. I have lots to lose personally, and yet I am still convicted that this decision still has to happen.”

Singleton added that he wishes Stevens the best on his next step in his career

Open Records Requests

Through an open records request, the Daily Light sought copies of Stevens’ employee evaluation on his performance as city manager beginning in 2007 and any documentation of previous contract extensions.

In an email from Saunders, she stated, “Mr. Stevens doesn’t have employee evaluations in his employee folder.”

The Daily Light also requested email exchanges between Stevens and members of the council over the past four months.

In an email from Saunders about the request she stated, “no records found pertaining to emails.”

Next Steps

At Monday’s regularly scheduled city council meeting the council convened into executive session to seek legal advice from the City Attorney Robert Brown on personnel matters in connection with the interim city manager and the search for the city manager. Upon reconvening into open session, no action was taken by the council.