The City of Puyallup will pay former City Manager Ralph Dannenberg $13,760 to settle a claim he filed contending his firing last year was retaliatory.
The City Council last week approved a settlement agreement that it states seeks “to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation” between the two parties.
In exchange for compensation equal to one month’s salary, Dannenberg agreed not to sue the city, City Council members or employees.
Neither side admits to wrongdoing in the agreement, which contains a clause that bars Dannenberg or City Council members from making false or malicious comments about the other party.
Joyce Thomas, Dannenberg’s attorney, and Deputy City Attorney Steve Kirkelie declined comment last week.
Dannenberg filed his tort claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, on Nov. 28. The city’s insurer notified him it would be willing to negotiate a settlement.
He has said he’s certain his firing in July on a 4-3 vote was the result of Mayor Rick Hansen’s embarrassment from an “unwelcome contact” complaint a female employee brought to Dannenberg’s attention.
Dannenberg sanctioned Hansen and the mayor was asked to attend sensitivity training.
Hansen had said Dannenberg’s firing “was not made on any one incident,” and some other council members criticized Dannenberg’s handling of the matter after the complaint went public.
Supporters of the firing said they took issue with Dannenberg’s handling of budget information and hiring decisions.
Dannenberg responded that he was a responsive city manager who made needed hires.
Those who opposed the firing said Dannenberg deserved a full performance evaluation, and at least one agreed with the former city manager that his firing appeared retaliatory.
His employment contract provided that he receive his salary for three months after his discharge and health insurance coverage through July.
The council added approval of the settlement to the agenda at the beginning of its meeting Tuesday. There was no discussion before it quickly voted to approve the settlement.Christian Hill: 253-274-7390