How will Amarillo pay Jared Miller and what will the impact be on the city financially?

During a special meeting Wednesday afternoon, the Amarillo City Council voted 5-0 to accept a separation agreement with city manager Jared Miller. The separation agreement follows the terms dealing with termination without cause outlined in Miller's current employment contract with the city.

With the separation agreement now formally approved by the city council, the total amount owed to  Miller per his contract and the executed separation agreement is approximately $767,260.75.

That amount includes:

• A lump sum severance payment of $633,726.16 paid from the water and sewer fund;

• A lump sum payment in lieu of a 90-day notice period of $97,134.59 paid from the general fund;

• Reimbursement for all medical and dental premiums paid by the Miller associated with continuation coverage for him and his dependents under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for 18 months of COBRA coverage after the date of separation in the estimated amount of $32,000 paid from the general fund; and

• Reimbursement for the annual life insurance premium for Miller’s $3 million 20-year guaranteed level term life policy in 2023 and 2024 in the estimated amount of $4,400 paid from the general fund.

Also outlined in Miller's contract, there are benefits associated with the severance payout aside from the base salary. These benefits include items such as car allowance, communications allowance, 457 plan funding, etc. 

The biggest question High Plains Daily News readers have asked about the agreement: How will Amarillo pay Jared Miller and what will the impact be on the city financially?

“In the separation agreement with Mr. Miller, there are several components that are directly related to Human Resources functions. Those items, such as the 90-day payout and various benefits, do affect the general fund as all HR functions do for positions inside the general fund. 

"However, with the salary savings over time, the effect is essentially a net-zero impact on the general fund.

"Also per the separation agreement, the severance payment was paid, as required by law, from an enterprise fund – in this case, the water and sewer fund. That fund is comprised of payments from our water customers and not related to a tax," Amarillo mayor Cole Stanley said.

Assistant City Manager Floyd Hartman said the severance payment to Miller will affect some city projects in the future.

“A portion of the separation agreement with Mr. Miller does affect the water and sewer Fund and will impact some future projects. Those projects will be determined by Council, but could include items such as the FY23/24 Water Extensions and Improvements and FY23/24 Wastewater Collection Sewer Extensions and Improvements. 

"While some projects might see a slight delay, the bottom line is that we’ll continue to work hard and make every effort to provide our fellow citizens with the best service possible," Hartman said.

Councilmember Don Tipps said when they looked at all of the options to pay Miller, it was decided the water and sewer funds would be the least impacted and the best way to protect the taxpayers.

“We looked at all of them, and decided where it needed to come from, which we chose drainage and sewer.

“We found a way that is really not going to impact the budget, it’s not going to impact their pocketbook. That’s really what we’re looking for is to protect the taxpayer stability in the organization and just continue doing what we’re doing," Tipps said.

Miller said he felt the separation agreement was handled with respect and professionalism from both sides.

“The council has been very professional and respectful throughout the process. I have not had time to process, but this is how it should go if this is going to happen. 

"When cities have a significant change in leadership, sometimes this happens.

“I love this community, I love this team, and I think council’s in the same place.

“So we wanted to make sure that whatever we did if we’re going to do this, let’s do it in a way that maintains the community’s ability to have confidence in the organization and in council, and maintains the organization’s ability to continue serving the citizens, and to continue being an effective tool to accomplish a whole lot of goals that are very challenging, all of them, Miller said.

Miller had served as the city's manager since 2017. He took over as the city manager after a two-year search process following the resignation of current Lubbock city manager Jarret Atkinson.

“I am proud of the team that serves the city of Amarillo and any that we built or any project that we have done. Sometimes, we do not get it perfect, but more often than not, the staff is doing a darn good job.

“I am glad for the time I have spent here with the organization; I still am going to be a resident of Amarillo. So, I still have a vested interest in how the organization does and hopefully, we are leaving it better than we found it.”

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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