Interim pool director gets $18,500 for quitting

Interim pool director gets $18,500 for quitting
(Photo courtesy of Peninsula Daily News)
PORT ANGELES, Wash. - The William Shore Memorial Pool District is paying its interim director $18,500 to resign.

The action ends a situation that Commission President Mike Chapman called "a failure of leadership and communication on my end."

The commissioners of the pool district, which runs the William Shore Memorial Pool, voted 4-0 Thursday to adopt a settlement agreement with Jayna Lafferty. Commissioner Cherie Kidd, who is also a Port Angeles City Council member, was absent.

The agreement pays Lafferty her salary for the last three months of her contract, which was set to end Dec. 31, and unused benefits.

It also ends a dispute between Chapman and Lafferty over whether she was fulfilling her contract.

Chapman, who is also a county commissioner, acknowledged after the meeting that paying an employee to resign isn't in the best interests of the taxpayers who support the pool district.

But he maintained that, based on advice from the district's attorney, the commissioners had no choice because Lafferty's seven-month-long contract did not address the possibility of a resignation.

"Our attorney presented us with this [agreement], and he said this is what fulfills the contract," Chapman said.

The district's attorney, Craig Miller, couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

The agreement says that the district and Lafferty can't sue each other over anything regarding her employment.

Chapman said that is "standard hold harmless language" and was not related to the decision to pay Lafferty her salary and benefits for the rest of the year.

Chapman placed Lafferty on paid administrative leave Sept. 16.

The president said that the issue was over what hours she was supposed to work.

Chapman acknowledged that the district's expectations weren't spelled out clearly in her contract.

He said that he takes "full responsibility" for that and any costs the 17-month-old pool district will incur as a result of Lafferty's resignation.

"It has cost the district money, and it has cost the district time," Chapman said.

"This was a failure of leadership and communication on my end," he said.

Lafferty, who had been the pool's administrator since July 2007, declined to comment on the agreement or her resignation.

While the district isn't paying her any more than it would if she didn't resign, it is incurring some additional costs that were not planned.

For instance, the district was paying the pool's two supervisors each an additional $100 per week to have run the pool while Lafferty was on leave.

The pay raise started Sept. 29 and will likely end when a new director is hired, Chapman said, likely in late November.

While Lafferty was on leave, the district also paid the cost of having an executive director at a rate of $1,250 per week without one actually being at the pool.

She last received a paycheck Oct. 5, and her pay for the last two weeks is included in the settlement.

With her termination, the district will likely end up paying the salary of two directors, at least for one month.

That's something the district already had planned.

In August, the commissioners decided to hire a new part-time director -- at reduced hours and pay -- in November and have Lafferty stay on board until the end of the year to teach them the ropes.

But without Lafferty, that's another service the district will be paying for and not receiving.

The district received nine applicants for the new director position and have interviewed six, Chapman said.

The commission also includes county Commissioner Mike Doherty, City Council member Pat Downie and Port Angeles resident Gary Holmquist.

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