Lexington's Blue Grass Airport and its former manager of administration, Debbie Kelly, have agreed that Kelly will receive $45,000, minus applicable withholdings, including taxes, in severance pay.
Her position, in which she made more than $79,000 per year, was scheduled to be eliminated this month as part of a massive reorganization at the airport that began in the wake of a spending scandal. Kelly's duties included managing the airport's executive lounge, information desk and reception area.
In addition to severance pay, Kelly will get $12,495.48 for accrued vacation time and another $1,960.85 for accrued sick time, both minus withholdings.
The net amount Kelly will be receiving is $27,548.74, according to airport officials.
Kelly's resignation was effective May 20. She had worked at the airport for 23 years.
Eric Frankl, the airport's interim executive director, signed the "severance agreement, waiver and full release" on Monday.
"We actually were seeking much more ... . She had a potential claim for age discrimination and disability," said Fred Peters, her attorney, on Tuesday.
Airport Executive Director Michael Gobb and directors John Coon, John Rhodes and John Slone, resigned from their jobs in January after the Herald-Leader began publishing a series of articles about the expenditure of airport money. The airport called in a consultant to help it reorganize its administrative structure and deal with other issues. Kentucky Auditor Crit Luallen's office found that Kelly, the four who resigned and two others who still work at the airport had more than $500,000 in questionable or unsupported expenditures of airport money between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2008. A criminal investigation is under way.
According to the auditor's office, Kelly had nearly $56,000 in questionable or unsupported expenses during the three-year time period. Kelly repaid the airport nearly $1,800 in January after it was determined she had been reimbursed twice for a deposit she made on a purchase of holiday hams in late 2008, according to the audit.
According to the agreement between Kelly and the airport, if Kelly is found to owe the airport any more money, she will repay the airport "what it reasonably determines she owes."
"Kelly acknowledges that certain amounts charged by airport employees to, or for which employees were reimbursed by, the airport may have been inappropriate," the document says.
"The expenses that she may have to reimburse the airport board were just a couple of hundred bucks at the most, and those were approved by somebody above her," said Peters, Kelly's attorney.
The consulting firm recommended that Kelly's job be "recast" as the position of executive assistant, with a pay range of $50,000 to $60,000. The airport has no plans to fill the administrative assistant position but, if and when the job is posted, Kelly is welcome to apply, airport officials said.
Although Kelly resigned officially on May 20, her last day at the airport was April 15, according to airport officials.
"She had a doctor's excuse for the past month she was off because of all the stress," Peters said.
Frankl praised Kelly Thursday.
"Debbie's knowledge, skills and ability will be missed by those with whom she has worked. The board and staff thank Debbie for her long-term, dedicated service to the airport and wish her well," he said.
New airport policies for personnel do not address severance pay, Frankl said. But, according to airport policies in the immediate past, the airport board did not pay severance pay. The old rules indicated that exceptions could be granted by the executive director or his designee.
Airport officials, when asked why Kelly was getting severance pay, said they were "very grateful" for Kelly's years of service.
The airport won't challenge any application for unemployment benefits Kelly might make and will provide a reference for future employment for her, according to the agreement. The airport won't be paying Kelly's attorney fees for negotiating the severance deal, according to the agreement.