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Columbia city manager resigns, could cost $179,000

Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes submitted his resignation to the city council on Tuesday, according to a press release.

Deputy City Manager John Glascock will serve as acting city manager until the council considers an interim appointment. Matthes’ resignation will be effective starting Wednesday at 5 p.m.

“It has been a pleasure to work with City staff and community members,” Matthes said. “We’ve accomplished many great things and I hope you all will continue to work hard to achieve the goals of the City and the community.”

Matthes tendered his resignation in a one-line email to the city council on Tuesday at 1:11 p.m.

“As set forth in the Mutual Severance Agreement, I resign the office of City Manager effective 5 pm, Wednesday, November 20, 2018,” Matthes said in the email obtained by ABC 17 News.

The City Council will meet in special session on Monday at noon to consider a “mutual severance agreement and take any other additional action needed to move forward,” the release said.

Matthes would be paid $179,652.61 by the city as part of the severance agreement, according to documents posted by the city on Tuesday evening. That includes his annual base salary of $166,456 and his remaining vacation hours multiplied by his hourly pay rate of $80.027. The agreement, which was signed by Matthes on Tuesday, also states that Matthes will not apply for another job with the city.

The council will also consider appointing Deputy City Manager John Glascock as Interim City Manager at the meeting. Glascock would make an annual salary of $164,822.11 in the new position, a five percent raise from his previous position.

“On behalf of the City Council, I want to thank Mike Matthes for his service as the city manager of Columbia,” Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said. “His work helped improve the odds of success for everyone by creating an economy with family-supporting jobs and strengthening our community so all individuals can thrive.”

Matthes has been at the center of a controversy about changes to the Columbia Police Department’s Community Outreach Unit, which concentrates special officers in a few areas of Columbia to form relationships with residents as a way of fighting and preventing crime. The department is considering changing the unit’s scope to spread officers citywide, prompting concerns about how the move affects plans to implement a community policing model in CPD.

ABC 17 News broke the news of the changes based on a memo written by Deputy Chief Jill Schlude in October. Matthes and Police Chief Ken Burton have faced questions about how the change was communicated to city council members and the public.

Matthes in his resignation letter did not mention the community policing issue.

Treece told ABC 17 News that he was reserving comment on the situation until after the council’s special meeting on Monday.

“We are working diligently to assure a smooth and seamless transition,” Treece said. “I plan to speak to the media on Monday after the City Council has had a chance to discuss in an open meeting.”

Matthes was also at the helm of a city government often criticized for how it manages finances, with unions representing police officers and firefighters calling for a comprehensive audit of city spending to find more money for public safety.

Columbia Professional Firefighters union President Travis Gregory said the organization was surprised by Matthes’ announcement.

“While this comes as a surprise, we are committed to working with whomever fills this role, along with City Council and our administration to continue progress on our agenda,” Gregory wrote in a statement. “We wish the city manager the best in his future endeavors.”

The leadership of the Columbia Police Officers’ Association, a union representing most of CPD’s sworn officers, acknowledged in a statement that it has “not always seen eye to eye” with Matthes, but “we can appreciated the difficulty he faced in representing over 120,000 constituents with conflicting interests.

The CPOA looks forward to working with Glascock, according to the statement.

“We also hope the CPOA, along with our other city employee groups, may have the opportunity to offer constructive suggestions for the selection of the next City Manager,” the organization said in the statement.

Look for more on this developing story.

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