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City Council was asked to cover the Culpepper buyout; it refused

Published: January 23, 2014, 3:08 am, by Monica Mendoza

City Council was asked by Mayor Steve Bach to cover the settlement package of the legislative assistant that he fired, council president Keith King said.

“I rejected the fact that it was our responsibility for the severance or buyout offer,” King said. “We didn’t do any of it.”

The City Council hired George Culpepper Dec. 18 to do research on behalf of the council for its policy development. Bach fired Culpepper Jan. 9 after he called Alaska Airlines while doing research on the issue of marijuana and the Colorado Springs Airport.

Culpepper, who spoke to the City Council Wednesday, said he was offered a deal by the city’s Human Resources Director. The deal was $12,100 and three months of medical benefits in exchange for Culpepper signing a confidentiality agreement saying he would not speak of his termination to anyone, especially the press, Culpepper said.

Behind the scenes, the City Council was asked to cover the $12,100 tab from its budget, which in 2014 is $943,258 from the general fund.

King said he’s is not sure from where the money for employee buyouts typically comes.

From June 2011 to Jan. 10, 2014, the city has paid $1.44 million in separation packages, according to the city’s chief of staff.

But the City Council did not fire Culpepper and it was not responsible for the paying the buyout, King said.

Chief of Staff Laura Neumann said Tuesday that the city never made a formal offer to Culpepper. The city has hired the law firm Hogan Lovells to handle the Culpepper issue.

Culpepper, who is represented by attoney Bob Gardner, told City Council he is weighing his legal options.