In 2010 Hillsborough’s Board of County Commissioners fired then County Administrator Pat Bean for secretly giving herself and County Attorney Renee Lee a pay raise in 2007. The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners ended up giving her $190,941 in severance and unused sick and vacation pay. As it turns out, she was not entitled to severance or any sick or vacation pay. Considering all of the staff and lawyers that looked at this case, how could we pay someone $190,941 in error? It’s easy. This is Hillsborough County, and we let politicians make financial decisions based on what is politically expedient.
If you remember, the BOCC dithered for months as to what to do, then finally got up enough gumption to fire her. They also dithered as to what to give her as they booted her out the door. They even hired an independent attorney to evaluate the situation. In the end they came up with a severance of $190,941.
Was she entitled to anything? The answer is no. Her employment contract had a provision dealing with termination. It said that if she got terminated she was entitled to severance and unused vacation and sick time pay. However, she was entitled to absolutely nothing if she broke the law by using her position to gain a personal benefit. Secretly giving herself a raise was not only unethical, it violated her contract and made her ineligible for any severance and/or benefit payout.