BUTLER TOWNSHIP – Embattled Butler Township Administrator Kim Lapensee submitted her resignation on Friday evening after an emergency meeting of the Butler Township Trustees on Friday.
Assistant Township Administrator Erika Vogel has been appointed Acting Administrator effective December 30.
“I have a heavy heart,” said Trustee Mike Lang. “We were cast a horrible hand – what were we supposed to do? At the end of the day, Kim has to do what is best for her personally, professionally, and for her family.”
Lapensee’s resignation comes a week after incoming Trustee Joe Flanagan sent her a letter demanding that she resign or be fired. Flanagan, along with Trustee Nick Brusky, would have had the necessary two votes to terminate Lapensee if she had refused.
As a result, Lang said Lapensee had no choice but to negotiate a severance package.
“The situation would have been untenable,” he said. “Who would want to work under those circumstances?”
Lapensee’s resignation will take effect on December 30. She will be paid a severance equal to nine months of pay, or $92,307.06, in a lump sum payment on December 31. Additionally, Lapensee will be paid the balance of her accrued vacation in the amount of $4,561.42 and a COBRA insurance payment of $9,043.47 which represents the Township’s portion of insurance premiums for a period of nine months.
In total, the Township will pay Lapensee $105,911.95.
“Six days ago I never would have dreamed being anywhere near this situation,” said Trustee Doug Orange. “It’s a sad day for the residents of the township that it came to this situation.”
Flanagan will replace Orange on the Board of Trustees in 2016 after defeating him in November’s election. He had previously stated his intention to use Brusky’s vote to be named President of the Board after taking office. In that capacity, he would have been able to be named Acting Administrator, which he said he intended to do.
However, Brusky said that he would “ensure” that Vogel remains Acting Administrator. He said that was because he did not approve of the Flanagan’s letter or the way the matter had played out in the media over the past week.
“I was disappointed in how Mr. Flanagan handled the whole situation,” said Brusky. “I did not approve of that letter. I did not know the letter was going to go out and I was disappointed by it. He continued discussion of it, even after we had the meeting, is harming the township. I think Erika is a hard worker and capable of handling the day to day duties of the township until we can find someone qualified and probably can be a candidate herself.”
Lang reserved judgement on whether Brusky will keep his word.
“I don’t know, we will have to wait and see what happens,” he said. “He said he will continue to support my being President (of the Board) but we will see.”
Brusky said that while he wanted a change in the administration, he took issue in the way it was handled.
“When I was elected back in 2013, the voters wanted something different,” he said. “When Flanagan was elected, the voters wanted to see something different. A change in administration is sometimes the result of that. There could have been a different resolution to this than how it had to happen tonight, we were kind of forced this hand, and I don’t think it’s the right thing.”
“I am sad,” said Lang. “We have assembled a really good team here. I’m very proud of our department heads and I’d pop them in anywhere and I believe they would be successful. We have stability, all the drama has been gone, and now in the last week we have had drama. Everyone (employees) are scared to death what will happen.”