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February 02, 2013

Sandy Miller to be Fired as South Burlington City Manager

Sandy Miller Screenshot

South Burlington City Manager Sandy Miller has been placed on administrative leave and is expected to be fired at Monday's city council meeting.

Miller announced his sudden departure in an email addressed to "Friends and Colleagues" that Seven Days obtained on Saturday. City Council chair Rosanne Greco subsequently confirmed Miller's pending termination.

"On Monday, January 28th at about 2 p.m. Steve Stitzel and Bob Fletcher came to my office and indicated my services as City Manager were no longer desired by City Council," Miller wrote in the email, referring to South Burlington's lawyers. "I was asked to leave the office. I was told I could not take the laptop computer with me and I would no longer have access to the City's e-mail."

"I am very disappointed with this turn of events, especially given the tremendous accomplishments we have achieved together during my tenure as CEO in South Burlington," Miller's email continued. "At the same time I have always maintained City Council has the right to decide who they want to be their City Manager."

Greco said by phone Saturday she was surprised that Miller publicized his dismissal in an email. "Boy, that's interesting," she said.

She confirmed that Miller was placed on paid administrative leave last Monday and his termination will be discussed in open session at Monday's city council meeting. She said city lawyers were presently drafting the public statement explaining his departure and would have it done by then. Greco said she could not discuss the reason for Miller's expected firing because it's a personnel matter and "we want to make sure we don't get sued." 

Miller was hired as city manager in 2010 on a one-year contract for $110,000 a year. When that expired, Greco said the council negotiated an open-ended contract with Miller. His present salary was $117,500, which Greco said made him the second-highest paid city manager in Vermont. While on administrative leave, Miller is not getting a paycheck.

Under Miller's contract, Greco said he could be terminated with or without cause. However, the contract comes with a severance clause that gives Miller one year's salary plus benefits if he is terminated without cause.

Miller replaced longtime South Burlington city manager Chuck Hafter, who left under a cloud of controversy. Soon after his arrival, Miller announced he had found a $9 million shortfall in the city's pension fund, which prompted the city council to order an ethics investigation of Hafter. Hafter later sued the city and Miller in Chittenden County Superior Court.

Reached by phone on Saturday, Miller said, "The email speaks for itself. I'm not prepared to make any additional statements to the press."

Screenshot courtesy of Channel 17 Town Meeting Television

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