CONYERS — The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners approved by a 2-1 vote a confidential settlement agreement and general release and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mediation settlement agreement with former Rockdale County Finance Director Roselyn Miller for $345,000 at their July 27 meeting. Post 1 Commissioner Sherri Washington had indicated at the BOC’s work session on July 20 that she would be voting against the agreement and cast the dissenting vote.
In a somewhat unusual move, the BOC added an executive session to the July 27 meeting to discuss personnel and land acquisition issues, placing it after the consent agenda and directly in front of the agenda item for the settlement vote. The executive session lasted about 30 minutes, and when they came back into open session, no action on items discussed in executive session was taken. Commission Chair Oz Nesbitt Sr. then made a motion to approve the settlement agreement, and Post 2 Commissioner Dr. Doreen Williams seconded it. There was no discussion and the vote was 2-1 in favor, with Washington dissenting.
Miller, who had been the finance director since 2014, was released from her position in September 2020. Miller had been placed on probation in August 2020 after the BOC learned that they were behind in paperwork detailing how the $3.9 million the county received from the CARES Act was to have been spent.
A news release sent out Sept. 17, 2020 by then-Chief of Staff Corey Hambrick stated that Washington and Williams had called for a review of policies and procedures, citing “a lack of confidence in the handling of the county’s Finance Department.”
Miller filed a complaint with the EEOC following her dismissal. According to the EEOC website, complaints are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and cannot be released.
This is the second settlement with a former employee that the Board of Commissioners has dealt with in 2021.
The BOC approved by a 2-1 vote in March a severance package for former Rockdale County Public Relations director Jorge Diez, who resigned on Feb. 26 following a meeting with Nesbitt five days earlier.
At that meeting, Diez presented Nesbitt with a letter listing needs for his department. Included in the letter was a request that Diez be recognized as one of Nesbitt’s executive directors “in both substance and salary.” Sometime during the meeting, which Diez secretly recorded, Nesbitt began “chewing out” Diez. After the meeting, Diez took the letter and recording to Commissioner Washington, who said later she found the way Nesbitt talked to Diez to be “disgusting,” “demoralizing,” and “degrading.”
When Diez resigned, Washington and Williams agreed to a severance package that included a lump sum payment of six months pay of Diez’s $105,000 salary, and 155 days pay for personal time off (PTO) that Diez had accumulated.
Discussion of that package turned heated between Nesbitt and Washington during a March 16 work session, with Nesbitt stating it sets a bad example for the county to give severance to an employee who resigns, while Washington noted that the money paid in the severance was less than what the county would have paid if Diez sued them for a “hostile work environment.”
Paid to Diez following his resignation from Rockdale County were:
♦ Six months of salary came to a gross payment of $52,500.11. The net payment after taxes and benefits was $31,155.90.
♦ Paid Time Off (PTO) — 155.20 hours came to a gross payment of $7,834.63. The net payment after taxes and benefits was $4,991.27.
Joe Gumm was approved as the new public relations director in May, and Mark Lewis was approved as the Finance Department director in June.
Editor's Note: The Citizen originally stated that the vote to approve the settlement agreement was unanimous, but learned that the vote was actually 2-1, with Commissioner Sherri Washington dissenting. The story has been updated to provide the correct vote.