By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency’s (UCHRA) Executive Committee suddenly reversed the recommendation of its policy council and rescinded a proposed severance package that was to be offered to the agency’s former director.
The action took place in a Tuesday morning meeting that also saw the approval of a merger between UCHRA and the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD). With this vote, UCHRA attorney Danny Rader no longer has the authority previously granted to him to negotiate a severance package with former executive director Luke Collins, which was not to exceed $27,500.
In the policy council meeting, which was held first, lines were drawn between Collins’ supporters and detractors with each side sticking to their guns on how they thought a severance settlement should be handled. To date, Collins had refused to accept the previous offer that was on the table following the board’s June executive committee meeting.
Following a short discussion, Overton County Mayor Ben Danner made a motion to rescind the authority given to Rader to offer the $27,500 settlement. Johnnie Wheeler seconded the motion which narrowly failed on a 11-10 vote, leaving the original offer on the table.
Later during the UCHRA executive committee meeting, the board was split on how they wanted to proceed regarding Collins. Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton made a motion to accept all actions taken by the policy council except the one line item relating to the former executive director’s severance package. The motion passed.
Cannon County Mayor Mike Gannon then made a motion to ratify the no vote on rescinding the authority granted to Rader regarding the settlement. Although the motion received a second from Marvin Lusk, the motion ultimately failed.
Danner then made the motion to rescind Rader’s authority to negotiate a severance settlement with Collins and to pursue (research) legal action if needed. Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton seconded the motion. This motion passed 13-7, thereby taking the original offer to Collins off the table.