Councilman: Randy Scott's retirement payoff was not a 'sweethear - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Councilman: Randy Scott's retirement payoff was not a 'sweetheart deal'

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Randy Scott takes the oath of office. Randy Scott takes the oath of office.
Councilman Brian Newman Councilman Brian Newman
Former City Manager Steve Gantt Former City Manager Steve Gantt

Some suggest Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott got a 'sweetheart deal' that allowed him to buy the remaining 34 months of time he needed to reach the 25 years of service required to collect police retirement benefits late last year.

The arrangement, which orders the city to pay just under $52,000, was finalized in September, 2012 under the direction of former City Manager Steve Gantt.

The money went toward purchasing Scott's military service years so that he could then qualify to receive benefits after he retired. He was rehired by the city two weeks later.

WIS on Tuesday got some additional commentary, but not much specificity on the agreement.

City officials have either declined to comment or in the case of current City Manager Teresa Wilson, deferred to the actions of her predecessor.

Gantt was not available for comment.

Council member Brian Newman said the city knew early on that there would be issues with Scott's transition from the Richland County Sheriff's Department to the Columbia Police Department.

"It was something that was well known through information provided to us as a council from our former city manager Steve Gantt," said Newman. "That if he were in fact to hire Randy Scott as our next police chief, there would be some differences and there would be some negative financial effects that he would have to deal with."

Wilson touched upon the subject Monday. "The intent behind the purchase was because when Chief Scott left the county I think that there were certain retirement benefits and insurance benefits that he would have been invested in at the time that he left and thus he forgo those benefits and so I believe that the prior city manager gave that some consideration in making his decision."

A Columbia attorney who specializes in labor law calls the arrangement a misuse of taxpayer funds. However that attorney, Lewis Cromer, is also representing plaintiffs Andre and Shannon Williams in lawsuits against Scott and the city.

"Keep in mind this was a different council that was comprised at that time," said Newman. "We were made aware of it, there were no actions that were taken at the time, but of course as we moved closer to a potential deadline for him to lose value to his retirement, the issue resurfaced."

"I definitely would not call it a sweetheart deal," said Newman. "We'll miss him, but we're looking forward to our new era at CPD."

Mayor Steve Benjamin and other council members declined to comment.

WIS has some additional questions. Have we seen all of the paperwork on this agreement and did the city council need to sign off on this arrangement since it involved the expenditure of more than $10,000? If so, when was that vote? 

Scott announced Monday that he was stepping down as police chief, effective May 1 citing a battle with PTSD and stress.

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