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Jackson County manager receives four-year contract extension

Jackson County Commissioners voted unanimously to offer County Manager Don Adams a four-year contract extension following a closed-session discussion on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Adams was hired in 2016 for an initial contract term running from Aug. 1, 2016, through July 31, 2021. The extension will take effect on Aug. 1, 2021, and continue through July 31, 2025, unless terminated sooner.

Under the contract, the board has the right to terminate Adams’ contract at any time without cause, but in that case the county would be required to provide six months of salary, health and dental insurance following termination, in addition to payment for any accrued sick or annual leave. Those terms would not apply in the case of termination for cause. If Adams chooses to break the contract early, he must give the board at least 60 days’ written notice.

The new contract is a “mirror” of the original, Chairman Brian McMahan said in open session prior to the vote. It is the same as the original except for omission of the section on moving expenses contained in the original and the absence of a previously included section outlining the process for Adams’ yearly performance evaluation. McMahan said that the board still plans to conduct an annual performance evaluation but decided the evaluation schedule did not belong the in the contract itself.

The initial contract stipulated an annual base salary of $125,010, with Adams receiving any annual increment, cost of living, bonus or merit increases provided to all regular full-time county employees. At the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Adams was drawing a salary of $135,315, the third-highest among managers for the four counties in The Smoky Mountain News’ coverage area. Haywood County Manager Bryant Morehead makes $150,118, Macon County Manager Derek Rowland makes $140,000 and Swain County Manager Kevin King makes $98,261.

Prior to his arrival in Jackson County, Adams spent 19 years as the county manager for Alleghany County.

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