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County manager's return less likely
Poston-O'Connor may sign severance
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Forsyth County News

Following closed-door talks, Forsyth County commissioners may approve a release and waiver agreement for former County Manager Rhonda Poston-O'Connor at Thursday's meeting.

Commissioner Linda Ledbetter described the proposed deal as "pretty basic."

"She's going to get her money, and she's not going to sue us and we won't sue her," Ledbetter said.

If both sides approve, Poston-O'Connor will receive a severance package totaling nearly $157,000, an amount she wanted split according to Commissioner David Richard.

"She wanted to change the standard terms of the payout," Richard said, "which we didn't have a problem with. She wants it in two payments next year for some reason."

Poston-O'Connor could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Pat Carson, personnel services director for the county, said the county manager contract allows for the "recipient to deem how the payments are split."

Carson added that the release and waiver documents must be signed before any severance is paid.

Since her termination on Sept. 4, at least two commissioners have speculated that Poston-O'Connor could return in some capacity, even as county manager, in 2009.

That's when the terms of Ledbetter and Richard expire. They will be succeed by Jim Boff and Patrick Bell. Ledbetter chose not to seek re-election in District 5, and Bell defeated Richard in the July 15 Republican primary for District 4.

Richard said in August that Chairman Charles Laughinghouse intended to bring Poston-O'Connor back as county manager as early as January. Laughinghouse did not deny the possibility.

But Richard said Tuesday he no longer thought that was the case.

"She's not coming back in January," he said. "Let's just say with discussions with both returning and new commissioners that there aren't three votes to bring her back."

Three votes was all it took to send Poston-O'Connor packing in September, when questions arose over the budget, specifically $5 million that at least one board member said was moved without a vote of the commission.

Following her firing, the board appointed then Deputy County Manager Doug Derrer to the position of interim county manager.

Poston-O'Connor began working with the county in October 2005. She became interim county manager in April 2006 and was promoted to county manager in September 2007.

Ledbetter maintains that Poston-O'Connor may return.

"I look for them to bring her back in January," she said.

Richard said Poston-O'Connor's return in January is doubtful.

"That's good news for Forsyth County," he said.