The District of Mission paid almost $389,000 in severance and owed vacation monies to former chief administrative officer (CAO) Ken Bjorgaard.
The numbers were released after the Mission Record filed a freedom of information request with the district.
According to the figures provided, under his employment agreement Bjorgaard received $261,759. He also received $82,800 retirement allowance, $39,008 in owed wages (untaken holiday time) and $5,200 for legal fees for a total of $388,767.
In 2013, Bjorgaard earned an annual salary of $178,404.
Bjorgaard, who was Mission’s finance director, was named the CAO in April of 2012 to replace long-serving CAO Glen Robertson who was retiring.
Bjorgaard was let go on February 13, 2015 and replaced, on an interim basis, by Robertson who came out of retirement.
Mission Mayor Randy Hawes said no one is pleased with the final amount, but It was a “without cause severance.”
“I know the public won’t be happy with it, with the amount. Be assured, none of us are happy with the amount either. We are all taxpayers as well. But we felt to move ahead in the direction we want the city to move in, we had to make the change,” said Hawes.
He would not go into details on why the change was needed, other than to say it was a council decision.
“Whenever we have this sort of a thing, it is a labour issue that never gets discussed in public.”
Hawes added that the contract called for severance and the district had to pay.
“That’s pretty much what contracts in every CAO of a city calls for.”
He said the final severance amount is actually closer to $350,000 because the $39,000 in owed holiday time would have to be paid whether Bjorgaard left or not.
“That’s not part of the severance package. That’s what he’s owed.”
As for the $5,200 in legal fees, Hawes said a lawyer was involved to negotiate Bjorgaard’s departure.