December 01st, 2023

joe denoyerEARL WATT
• Leader & Times


New revelations on how the now infamous city manager contract came into existence have been exposed since former City Manager Mark Hall filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Liberal.

Following the passage of the new contract, the Mayor Denoyer stated in an interview that “I was not asked for input at all.”

But Hall claims that not only was Denoyer the person who requested a new contract, but he also was asking for a specific length of time as well.

According to a letter that Hall sent to the Liberal City Commission on Feb. 21 to request his severance package, Hall stated, “In August of 2017, Mayor Denoyer contacted the Human Resources Director to request the City Manager draw up a five-year employment contract. The Human Resources Director contacted me to explain the Mayor’s request. I stated that a fice-year contract was not the standard for the industry, but would do some research. Just to clarify, the request for a new employment contract was from Mayor Denoyer and not from me.”

Hall then stated that he had the contract printed out and delivered to the Human Resource Director one hour before the October 24, 2017 meeting, and according to Hall, “I explained that the employment contract was to be delivered tot he Commission, as per Mayor Denoyer’s instructions.”

But Denoyer said that he was not aware that the contract would be presented.

“I saw the executive session was on the agenda,” he said. “We had prior filled out city manager evaluations. I was not aware the contract was going to be presented.”

But Hall’s statement refuted Denoyer’s claim, stating, “I explained that the contract was standard ICMA wording with a 24-month severance. I explained this was not a five-year contract, and that Mayor Denoyer was aware of that. I also explained that many of the original percentages stayed the same, but the language was cleaned up. I place the two copies back in the envelope and requested the Human Resources Director to give the employment contract to the Mayor, as per his instructions.”

Hall’s previous contract ran out in September, 2017, with an automatic renewal if no changes were made.

That happened after the City primary where Denoyer chose not to run and commissioners Dave Harrison and Dean Aragon were defeated.

With a new majority coming to the commission in January, and voters recently ousting two sitting commissioners, candidate forum questions indicated displeasure from some in the community about Hall’s actions as city manager, ranging from the botched land sale of the former softball complex and the construction of the replacement complex in a flood plain as well as other performance concerns.

With Hall’s existing contract, should the new commission choose to relieve Hall of his duties, his severance package would have been a fraction of what was presented in the new contract.

Hall said in his February letter, “Mayor Denoyer made it known that he had his own reasons for requesting a new contract in August.”