By Michael Howell
Deputy County Attorney Geoff Mahar has signed an employment agreement, separation agreement, and general release agreement with County Attorney Bill Fulbright and the County memorializing his employment relationship as an employee “of counsel” for the county through May 31, 2013. The settlement agreement was signed and filed with the Clerk and Recorder in mid August. The decision was made following a closed session that was conducted in privacy.
On Monday, September 6, however, when the minutes for that week came up for approval, Lee Tickell, of Ravalli County Watchdogs, a local government watchdog group, objected to adoption of the minutes of August 15. According to Tickell, the settlement agreement with Geoff Mahar was agreed to following that closed session, but the decision was not on the agenda.
Tickell argues that since the decision was not properly noticed it is invalid and thus minutes claiming that the decision was made would also be incorrect. The minutes for that day were not approved along with the other minutes and the matter was referred to the County Attorney’s Office for a recommendation of how to proceed.
In the settlement agreement, all parties agree that Mahar is an employee of the county in good standing. However, Mahar will not be involved in the day to day work at the Ravalli County attorney’s Office but will be available for “occasional consultation only” when and as directed by Fulbright in writing. Mahar will be allowed to take outside employment so long as it is not in direct conflict with county interests.
Mahar will continue to receive his current annual salary of $75,733 through May 31, 2013. He will also continue to receive all benefits including health insurance, paid holidays, life and disability insurance, and retirement contributions. Mahar will also receive an additional $1,500 per month over a twelve month period to purchase an additional year of retirement out of Mahar’s earnings sufficient to allow him to retire with 20 years of service. The county will also continue to cover his errors and omissions insurance for the duration of his employment. The county will also pay $10,000 to Mahar’s attorneys who represented him in the negotiations with the county.
Both parties agree not to disparage each other over the issues involved.
In return, Mahar agrees to hold the county and Fulbright harmless for any actions leading up to the settlement agreement. Specifically Mahar agrees to withdraw two complaints he filed with the Human Rights Bureau against Fulbright and the County.
Mahar was employed as Deputy County Attorney from February 14, 1997 through August1, 2011. He served as Chief Deputy from 1998 to January 3, 2011. His current employment agreement to serve as “of counsel” extends through May 31, 2013 after which there is no expectation of further employment.