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Artesia City Manager Resigns, Receives $244,000 Severance, $420,000 Total

By Brian Hews

HMG-CN learned this past Wednesday that Artesia City Manager Bill Rawlings resigned and that the separation was “amicable.”

No further comment came from the city given that it is now a personnel matter.

His resignation comes after several managers and employees complained about Rawlings treatment of them.

HMG-CN was told of the story months ago but could not get confirmation of the kind or level of harassment from city officials.

Sources tell HMG-CN that Melissa Burke will take over as temporary City Manager and that the city will begin a search for a permanent manager in the coming weeks.

The Separation Agreement, obtained Wednesday, shows that Rawlings received a $244,000 severance along with vacation and sick leave totaling over $178,000 for a total hit to city coffers of nearly $420,000.

The city will also pay Rawling’s health costs for 10.5 months, unless he is employed before that.

Typically health insurance is upwards of $1,000 per month, costing the city an additional $10,000 if Rawlings does not find another job.

The agreement indicated that the city and Rawlings agreed to resolve all existing and future disputes, arising from Rawling’s employment.

Standard in a separation agreement is the statement that the parties acknowledge that there has been no admission of any wrongdoing, fault, violation of law, or liability of any kind on the part of either the city or Rawlings and that the agreement cannot be used in future lawsuits.

Some of the wording strongly indicated the city is bracing for employee lawsuits.

Rawlings is not separating completely with the agreement stipulating that he will use his “best efforts” to cooperate and participate in any personnel investigations that were ongoing before the Separation Date and help in any current or future lawsuits against the city that involve Rawlings.

He also agreed to participate in any trials, and all elements within a trial including discovery, depositions, etc., without compensation.

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