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Wednesday, 09 October 2013 02:05

Maggie town manager, festival director both lose jobs over concert deal

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fr maggiewoesAfter a week of paid suspension, Maggie Valley’s town manager and festival director are gone.

 

Last week, the Maggie Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to fire Festival Director Audrey Hagar and accept the resignation of Town Manager Tim Barth. The decision was made after a two-hour closed session to further investigate choices made by Barth and Hagar leading up to a concert at the town-owned festival grounds.

Both former employees signed off on a deal to front money to Charlie Meadows, a business owner and Maggie alderman candidate, to put on a country music concert in August as long as Meadows agreed to reimburse the town.

Hagar spent $16,000 in taxpayer money on the event, which in the end lost money. Now, Meadows owes Maggie $11,000. The agreement was made without the mayor or aldermen’s knowledge. 

After Maggie residents called into question Barth and Hagar’s actions, Maggie leaders conducted their own investigation of the events surrounding the mid-August Matt Stillwell concert. The town board met for a couple hours on Sept. 24 and voted to suspend Barth and Hagar with pay for a week until more questions could be answered. That following Friday, Maggie leaders met for a few more hours to gather additional information.

By last Wednesday, Oct. 2, there was only one last person to hear from.

“We have heard from Audrey. We have heard from the entire staff, and now, we are going to hear from Mr. Barth,” said Mayor Ron DeSimone before entering closed session last week.

Barth answered the board’s questions for an hour. Then, the mayor and aldermen talked for another hour in closed session before bringing Barth back in. By the time the Maggie Board of Aldermen resumed open session to announce its decision regarding Barth and Hagar, both were out of the room.

Barth gave the board verbal notice of his resignation, signifying that he had not gone into the meeting necessarily prepared to leave. However, Alderman Mike Matthews said that town manager’s resignation was something the board and Barth agreed on.

“I think we and everyone felt it was time,” Matthews said, adding that Barth was an asset to the town.

Despite the controversy over the concert, Alderman Phillip Wight said that he and other board members liked Barth and wished him well going forward.

“We are definitely not here to hurt someone’s future,” Wight said.

Both will leave with a little extra money in their pocket. Hagar, who worked for the town for four years, left with $5,900 in vacation payouts, but nothing else. Barth, who has served as town manager since 2005, will leave with $48,000.

Despite resigning, the board allowed Barth to keep his severance pay, an agreement typically reserved for when an employee is fired. According to his contract, Barth will receive six months pay, about $38,000. The remaining money is paid vacation time; Barth had saved up 30 vacation days.

Maggie Planning Director Nathan Clark started as interim town manager Monday.

During the controversy, Hagar said she would focus on her private business, AHPromotions, if fired. She described her services as similar to those that she performed as festival director, which included helping to organize events. However, AHPromotions does not have a readily apparent website nor is it a registered LLC with the state.

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