Outgoing Clayton Town Manager J.D. Solomon will receive $158,000 in severance pay after serving as the town’s permanent top staffer for just three months.
Solomon resigned Monday night after being appointed to the position effective Feb. 1. He’d served as the interim manager since Sept. 1, 2020.
Solomon and the town agreed that he would “voluntarily resign,” according to a separation agreement The News & Observer obtained through a public records request.
The resignation followed a two-hour closed session Monday night.
“They asked me to step in back in September,” Solomon told The News & Observer the next day. “We did some really good work, but it was time to hand it off to somebody else.”
Solomon’s appointment to the full-time job was controversial, with the mayor and a Clayton Town Council member criticizing the decision to appoint the long-time town contractor. The town was in the process of reviewing other candidates and Solomon had not applied for the position.
“I’m not in favor of this,” Mayor Jody McLeod said then. “I don’t think it’s a wise move. I think it’s blowing money.”
Council member Avery Everett told his fellow members they weren’t on the same page about hiring Solomon and that he felt left out of the discussion. “How this all played out is completely shady,” he said at the time.
Solomon was originally hired on an interim basis on Sept. 1 to fill in for Town Manager Adam Lindsay who resigned in August. His severance was $173,000, his annual salary.
Wastewater treatment plant
Before being named interim manager, Solomon was overseeing the town’s planned $120 million wastewater treatment plant. That contract for that project began Jan. 1, 2020, and called for him to be paid $20,000 a month for three years ending in 2023.
On Aug. 28, the contract was amended to allow a $60,000 bonus when certain criteria were met including a council retreat and at least 50% of the wastewater master plan. That contract was terminated Aug. 31 for Solomon to serve as interim town manager. He was paid for his services through Aug. 31 including a $60,000 bonus.
After Solomon was hired, the then Clayton Police Chief Blair Myhand was placed on administrative leave. Solomon named Greg Tart, a former N.C. State Bureau of Investigations deputy director, as acting police chief in mid-November. Myhand accepted the police chief job in Hendersonville in January and Tart was sworn-in as Clayton’s full-time police chief in March.
In February, Solomon unveiled a 400-page draft report showing the police department has had “a culture where various forms of misbehavior” were tolerated. The external investigation was done by US ISS, a security consultant, and Solomon said it may not be released publicly due to personnel privacy rules.
The News & Observer requested a copy of the report in February.