TNRD releases terms of $350,000-plus settlement agreement with former CAO

Former TNRD CAO Sukh Gill. KTW photo

Jessica Wallace / Kamloops This Week

Following numerous requests from Kamloops This Week, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District has released terms of a settlement agreement with its former CAO, Sukh Gill.

The settlement shows Gill is receiving more than $350,000 and the regional district was required legally to call his resignation a retirement.

Through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request, the legal document from Harris and Company, a Vancouver law firm — marked “private and confidential” — was provided to KTW on Friday morning.

It discloses that the regional district agreed to pay Gill his regular salary for a period of 20 months — from his Feb. 14, 2020 departure to October 2021 — as well as 139.75 accrued vacation days, pension contributions, benefits, $3,000 in legal/counselling fees and a laptop and cellphone.

Gill’s salary in 2018 — the most recent year of publicly released financial documents — was $267,000.

In addition, a clause in the agreement states: “The TNRD will announce Mr. Gill’s departure from the TNRD as retirement.”

TNRD board chair Ken Gillis was asked about referring to Gill’s departure as a retirement when the former CAO will be paid his salary until October 2021.

“When I spoke to you on every occasion and when I spoke to the media on every occasion up to this point, I said that it was a retirement and I was speaking in compliance with a legal agreement that we had executed,” Gillis told KTW.

“So, it states right there, you’ve seen it, obviously, the final agreement included a provision that Mr. Gill’s departure be announced as a retirement and that’s what we did.”

Asked if Gill was terminated, Gillis said: “It was announced as a retirement. I mean, there’s quite a bit of information that went out to you, including the fact that he got a 20-month payout and you are, you know, able to put any interpretation you wish on that, but I’m not commenting further.”

According to the settlement agreement, dated Feb. 20, 2020, the TNRD agreed to pay Gill his regular salary and contribute to benefits and pension in the same manner, as if he were employed, for a period of 20 months, from Feb. 14, 2020, to Oct. 14, 2021, which is referred to as the “notice period.” During that time, Gill will not accrue vacation pay nor other usual benefits of employment. The notice period will continue salary, benefits and pension contributions. Gill will also be allowed to keep his laptop computer — with TNRD confidential information removed — and the regional district also agreed to purchase him a new Samsung S20-plus cellphone, with his existing number to be transferred to his new phone plan.

Other terms include: the TNRD not objecting to Gill continuing his term on the Municipal Insurance Association of British Columbia board and contributing up to $3,000 toward his legal or counselling services. In addition, Gill is to make himself available, at no cost, to assist the TNRD with any transition issues.

If, during the 20-month notice period during which he is being paid his full salary, Gill finds alternate employment and earns more than $2,000 per month, the TNRD will deduct 50 per cent of the amount over $2,000 from his notice period payments. If Gill finds work that pays him at least 80 per cent of his TNRD salary, the regional district will cease paying Gill his notice period salary and will instead pay him a lump sum equivalent to 50 per cent of the amount owing in the notice period payments.

Asked the total amount paid out to Gill, Gillis said: “Here is the bottom line — the settlement agreement was for a 20-month salary continuance, OK? That equates to approximately one month per year of Mr. Gill’s service. The salary continuance totals $346,723.44, together with the applicable benefits. This is consistent with Mr. Gill’s total entitlement to compensation in lieu of notice.”

That sum does not include pension contributions and benefits. Gillis could not provide the total sum to be paid out to Gill.

“I don’t have that number,” he said.

Some of the material requested from the TNRD was returned to KTW blacked out after Gill declined to release personal details. The freedom of information request material also included a memo from the regional district’s manager of communications and marketing, Michelle Nordstrom, dated Feb. 14, 2020, at 4:47 p.m.

It confirms previous KTW reporting, that the regional district had announced Gill’s departure as a “resignation.”

“The Thompson-Nicola Regional District announces that our Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Sukh Gill, has tendered his resignation effective Feb. 14, 2020,” the letter states.

“The TNRD thanks Mr. Gill for his 20 years of dedicated service. The board and staff with him the best in his future endeavours. For now, the TNRD will appoint an interim CAO and immediately undertake the search for a replacement for Mr. Gill.”

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