Richland County taxpayers will foot the bill for the roughly $1 million settlement being paid to recently fired county administrator Gerald Seals.
An $800,000 lump payout to Seals will be paid from the county's general budget through its own insurance program. The county is self-insured and sets aside several million dollars in its budget each year to cover legal claims against the county.
The remainder of Seals' settlement will be paid as wages and benefits, according to the severance clause of his employment contract. His 12-month salary of $184,000 plus six months' benefits take the total value of the settlement to about $1 million.
County Council voted 5-4 on the settlement terms Monday evening, after a slim 6-5 majority of council voted twice last month to fire Seals, citing insubordination, high staff turnover and sleeping on the job as reasons for his termination.
Seals has disputed the validity of those causes for firing and has said he believes his firing may have been retaliation for his confronting what he said are ethical issues involving council members.
He also said the county's first vote to fire him was done illegally according to state law, which requires a county administrator to be given written notice of reasons for his firing and entitles him to a public hearing regarding his employment.
Multiple council members have told The State the settlement is being paid to protect the county and individual council members from potential lawsuits Seals could bring.
Six of the 11 County Council members voted last month to fire Seals: Norman Jackson, Gwen Kennedy, Paul Livingston, Jim Manning, Greg Pearce and Seth Rose. Those against Seals' firing were Joyce Dickerson, Chip Jackson, Bill Malinowski, Yvonne McBride and Dalhi Myers.
On Monday, Chip Jackson, Kennedy, McBride, Myers and Pearce voted in favor of the terms of Seals' settlement. Manning and Rose were not present for the vote.
Seals was hired as interim county administrator in July 2016, replacing outgoing administrator Tony McDonald. County Council extended a full contract to Seals in December 2016.