Granby’s former town manager received almost $30,000 after he quit job
In an uncommon move, the Granby Board of Trustees gave the town manager almost $30,000 in severance pay after he announced he would be leaving his job.
Records show Aaron Blair received three months of compensation after resigning from his position this fall. Sky-Hi News obtained Blair’s post employment contract through an open records request and found the town justified the severance agreement by referencing Blair’s contributions to Granby.
Blair’s post employment contract described a mutual agreement to end his tenure and stated that the board “recognizes the value and service” Blair provided the town.
As town manager, Blair’s salary was $118,000. He was paid $4,538 bi-weekly since Oct. 2 as severance, totaling $27,230 gross pay at the end of December.
At the Aug. 13 town meeting, four members of the board and four members of town staff, including Blair, went into executive session to discuss personnel matters. Mayor Paul Chavoustie, Trustee Natascha O’Flaherty and Trustee Cathy Tindle did not attend the meeting.
After the executive session, Trustee Becky Johnson made a motion.
“I’m going to still make the motion — it might not be seconded — but I am going to make the motion that we offer our current town manager a severance package of three months when and if he chooses to leave us,” Johnson said at the meeting.
Trustee Josh Hardy seconded the motion. Johnson, Hardy and Mayor Pro-Tem Deb Shaw voted in favor. Trustee Nick Raible opposed it.
An unusual agreement
For the mayor, who was not present for the discussion or vote, the town manager’s resignation wasn’t something he thought necessarily warranted additional compensation.
“I think when people resign, that’s their choice,” Chavoustie said. “I don’t know if I would’ve supported a severance. (He) decided to leave; it was (his) choice to leave.”
Blair started working for Granby in the spring 2017 and left the job Oct. 1. He alerted the board of his impending departure in July. He had not yet accepted a new position, but made his decision clear to the board. His wife, Jessica Blair, announced her resignation as executive director of the Granby Chamber of Commerce at the same time.
“I enjoyed tremendously working with Aaron and encouraged him to stay, but they felt they wanted to move on,” Chavoustie said. “I supported him in that as well.”
The post-employment agreement was in addition to Blair’s most recent employment contract with the town, which was approved in June 2018.
The contract stated that if the town terminated Blair’s employment without cause, he would be paid a lump sum of cash equal to six months’ salary.
If Blair chose to resign, the terms were different. The contract said he was to provide 30 days notice and that “no severance pay shall be provided by the town.”
Two town managers before Blair also received severance, but the town fired them in both instances.
The town manager before Blair, Wally Baird, was fired without cause in 2016 and received three months severance. Baird’s predecessor, David Huseman, was fired without cause at the end of 2006. He received four months severance.
Grand Lake saw a hefty severance package following a resignation in 2019, but circumstances were slightly different. In May, Grand Lake’s town manager Jim White announced an early retirement after some disputes over his tenure with the Grand Lake Board of Trustees. White received $70,000 in severance as part of his early retirement.
Aside from Grand Lake, the Sky-Hi News could not find any other instances of a resigning town manager receiving a severance package in the county.
Blair’s post employment agreement, while recognizing his work, also set out three provisions.
The first was cooperation in continuing matters, in which Blair agreed to help with any litigation or possible litigation related to issues he might have been involved with while he was town manager.
In the second provision, Blair waived all legal claims and complaints against the town. The third provision was a non-disparagement clause that applied to both the town and Blair, stating both parties would only say they ended their relationship amicably and “had no concerns or disagreements about acts or omissions of each other.”
On June 10, Blair also received a 5% raise and a $1,500 bonus, which he requested to be paid as a lump sum. He was paid the $7,400 on June 28, a few weeks before announcing that he would be leaving the town.
The board plans to announce a new town manager on Jan. 14.
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West Grand seniors Rene Dominguez, right, and Angel Dominguez pass the baton during one of the nighttime relays at the 2021 Joe Shields Invitational at WGHS.