Basalt council approves $250,000 settlement with former manager Scanlon
The Aspen Times
An acrimonious chapter in Basalt’s history ended with barely a peep Tuesday when the Town Council voted 5-0 to accept a $250,000 settlement with former manager Mike Scanlon.
The council consulted with attorney Alice Powers on the proposal for about three minutes before approving the deal. Powers said it was best to settle after mediation rather than take the issue to court “because we knew it was going to be very heavily litigated.”
Powers said Scanlon was seeking about $550,000 prior to mediation. The $250,000 settlement will be split between the town government and its insurance carrier.
Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said she heard from a couple of constituents that the agreement was too expensive for the town. She said she tried to explain that it was a less expensive route than litigation.
“All I can say is we spent all the time in the world on this,” Whitsitt said. She added that she was “glad it’s over.”
The settlement prohibits either party from discussing the reasons for their parting of ways. Scanlon declined comment. He signed the agreement June 19.
Scanlon terminated his contract in August and left town abruptly after a series of disputes with some members of the board. Friction between Scanlon and Whitsitt came to a head after she narrowly won re-election in April 2016.
The issue that led to the divorce between Scanlon and the town came when he used town funds to assist his purchase of a home in Basalt. The town had an assistance program that he tapped. Scanlon and town officials disagreed over propriety of the move.
Scanlon filed a notice of claim in December that contended the town owed him for lost wages and benefits, attorney’s fees and costs in an amount “that may exceed $500,000.” He contended the town violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech, breached his contract, intentionally interfered with his contract, intentionally interfered with prospective business relations and defamed him.
Scanlon never filed a lawsuit. Instead, the sides agreed this spring to nonbinding mediation.
The settlement was approved Tuesday by Whitsitt and Councilmen Auden Schendler, Bernie Grauer, Mark Kittle and Gary Tennenbaum. Councilwomen Katie Schwoerer and Jennifer Riffle were not present.
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