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Spokane Valley officials still not talking about why two top staffers abruptly resigned

February 18, 2017

When two of Spokane Valley’s top city administrators abruptly agreed to resign last month, it came as a surprise to many of their co-workers.

Public Works Director Eric Guth and Capital Improvements Program Manager Steve Worley handed in their keys to City Hall on Jan. 17.

Thursday, city staff released the final information about their separation agreements, showing the two are being paid more than $125,000 in salary, benefits and vacation time payouts.

Placed on three months’ paid administrative leave until April 17, Guth will receive about $47,100 in salary and benefits, plus an additional $21,300 in vacation time payout.

For the same time period, Worley will receive $38,500 in salary and benefits and an additional $20,700 in vacation time payout.

No one at City Hall will say why the two left, and their separation agreements include gag orders stating that they may not “make any negative or derogatory comments … about the city or its officers.”

City Manager Mark Calhoun said the city doesn’t comment on personnel issues, a statement that was repeated by City Attorney Cary Driskell.

Spokane Valley City Council members also declined comment.

Gloria Mantz, a development engineer with Spokane Valley, has been appointed temporary capital improvements program manager, but no one has been appointed to fill Guth’s position.

Worley was with the city since its incorporation in 2003 and oversaw street and bridge projects, as well as construction of the new City Hall and many state and federal grant applications for transportation projects.

Guth joined Spokane Valley in 2012 when he returned from a year in Afghanistan, where he worked on military construction projects. A civil engineer, he’s held similar jobs in Colorado and other states.

The majority on the sitting City Council fired former City Manager Mike Jackson last year, a move that cost the city $452,529.81 – or nearly $300,000 more than what Jackson’s contract entitled him to had he stayed.

The state auditor’s office looked into several complaints from Spokane Valley residents about secrecy and inappropriate spending of public funds, but found no wrongdoing on behalf of the council.