Gary Verburg, an independent lawyer who was hired by the city of Flagstaff to handle issues regarding City Manager's Josh Copley’s resignation, said in an email that when the council opted to release Copley from his duties three months before the May date in his letter, his resignation was no longer voluntary, meaning the city would have to pay him severance. The council drew up a severance agreement that gave Copley six months’ worth of pay, or about $92,000.
The council then appointed Goodrich to the position of acting city manager for an eight-month period. According to her contract, she is to be paid $200,000 as a base salary.
Copley’s resignation letter came the day after the council held a closed-door session, which was listed on the agenda as “Discussion of possible recruitment of City Manager given contract end of 02/26/2019.” Council members are prohibited from revealing what happens during an executive session, and minutes are not made public.
However, some council members said the agenda item and the chain of events afterward should tell a story.
“The council expressed a desire to the city manager, and I can’t discuss what the desire was, but you can imagine what it was when he wrote the letter,” Putzova said.
In his letter, Copley said the council was not giving him the opportunity to choose when he would retire. However, several council members said they were never told of any plans for retirement.
Vice Mayor Jamie Whelan said Copley was “absolutely not being pushed out before he was ready,” and Councilman Charlie Odegaard said the council did not express a desire for Copley’s contract to be cut any shorter.
Councilman Jim McCarthy, who said he could not talk about what happened in the executive session, said Copley’s letter “in effect says he was pushed out. He was being moved out on council’s schedule.”