City Manager Clai Brown rescinds resignation after Commission declines to pay severance

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 11, 2018

Avondale Estates City Manager Clai Brown stands next to a portrait of his father, former city manager and police chief Dewey Brown. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

Avondale Estates City Manager Clai Brown has announced he is staying with the city, rescinding his earlier resignation.

He made his decision after the City Commissioners refused to pay a severance that was added to his contract in 2015.

According to the contract amendment, which was provided to Decaturish, Brown was eligible to receive severance worth up to one year’s salary, plus any vacation and sick leave he had not used. Based on records provided by the city, Brown currently makes around $180,000. At the beginning of 2016 he was being paid $162,496, and records show he has had two 5 percent raises since then. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Brown has $114,000 in accrued vacation and sick leave. That, combined with bonuses due, would’ve cost the city more than $300,000, the AJC reported, roughly nine percent of the city’s budget.

Brown forwarded an email he had sent to the City Commission announcing his decision to stay on as city manager.

“This will serve as notice of my decision to rescind my resignation based on the decision made on Tuesday, Jan. 9 in Executive Session not to honor the First Amendment of my Employment contract,” Brown said. “Your decision was communicated to my counsel by Bob Wilson in his capacity as city attorney. While I am disappointed in the city’s failure to honor my contract, I will continue to do my job and provide the very best service to our residents and business owners.”

Brown’s announcement last month that he would resign shocked many residents. Brown has been city manager since 2008. He is the son of Dewey Brown, who was the city manager and police chief for Avondale Estates for 46 years.

It’s not clear why Brown initially announced that he would resign, though a disagreement about the city budget preceded it. Brown has said this is not the reason he announced his resignation.

City Commissioners did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Mayor Jonathan Elmore said via text message, “I cannot comment at this time.”

Elmore told the AJC recently that he wasn’t aware of the modification to Brown’s contract until he announced his resignation. He said he would not have signed such an an agreement. Elmore was elected in March 2015 to replace Ed Rieker, who had resigned. The amendment was signed by then-interim mayor Terry Giager, who was voted off the City Commission in November. Wilson, the city attorney, also signed the contract.

The city’s two new commissioners, Lionel Laratte and Lisa Shortell, were sworn in this week also declined comment.

“I can only confirm that the letter he sent today was indeed sent and that the stated purpose was to rescind his resignation,” Shortell said. “I can’t talk about anything more because it’s all privileged legal stuff.”

Here is the amendment to Brown’s contract approved in 2015 and memos showing his pay increases over the years.

Clai contract amend

Clai contract memos

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