Seward to leave Dec. 31

Published 1:50 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alphin says new board and direction were causes

By Diana McFarland

News editor

Isle of Wight County Administrator Anne Seward resigned Thursday night after a closed session with the Board of Supervisors — a move that came as a surprise to the three newly elected board members.

Seward’s resignation is effective Dec. 31. She has served as county administrator for about two years.

Chairman Rex Alphin cited the change in board membership and the newly elected supervisors’ desire to take the county in another direction as the reasons Seward resigned.

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Her resignation was accepted with a 4-1 vote, with Smithfield Supervisor Al Casteen being the only board member to cast the dissenting vote.

Some residents have taken issue with Seward receiving a six-month severance pay of $80,070, as well as having the two-month notice waived. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

According to her contract, Seward is entitled to severance pay if she resigned following a request, either formal or informal, by a majority of the Board.

Alphin said in an email Monday that the majority of the Board asked for her resignation, she gave it and they accepted it. He also referred to Windsor Supervisor Dee Dee Darden’s motion.

According to Board Clerk Carey Storm, Darden’s motion said, “Supervisor Darden moved that the Board accept the resignation of Anne Seward as county administrator effective Dec. 31, 2015 and authorize the chairman to execute an agreement with Ms. Seward indicating acceptance of such resignation and authorize the payment of Ms. Seward for six-months’ severance pay in the amount of $80,070 as set forth in Ms. Seward’s employment agreement.”  

When asked whether Seward resigned or was asked to resign, Casteen said, “I’m not really sure.”

“The Board was trying to be fair to Anne. That was the Board that hired her,” he said.

The three newly elected supervisors were surprised by Seward’s resignation, but they had campaigned on issues of transparency and were critical of many of Seward’s and the Board’s initiatives, such as ISLE 2040.

Supervisors-elect Dick Grice, William McCarty and Joel Acree said Seward’s resignation was not discussed last week during a new supervisor orientation.

There was a discussion on management style and allowing supervisors greater access to departmental directors, Grice said, adding that he’s requested meetings with directors and has been refused.

Acree was also the chief of the Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department, which spent more than a year in a bitter stand-off over the facilities use agreement, and which almost ended up in court.

Acree said that when there’s a change in elected officials, its natural for any employee to be concerned. Acree said they had discussed making Isle of Wight County successful in the future, but perhaps the new Board and Seward differed on specifics.

McCarty agreed with Acree about changes on the Board of Supervisors.

“Whenever there’s a change in leadership, there’s always a change across the board,” he said, adding that perhaps Seward took their call for a new direction as a call to resign.

Acree, Grice and McCarty said they would prefer that the next county administrator live in Isle of Wight County. The current Board had waived the residency requirement in Seward’s contract. {/mprestriction}