Former El Mirage City Manager B.J. Cornwall Expecting $250,000+ Severance Package; Wants Taxpayers to Keep Paying $700 Monthly Car Allowance

Former El Mirage City Manager B.J. Cornwall, who wrote his own contract, was very generous with his post-employment payouts. And if he gets his way, Cornwall will collect more than $250,000 from the city.

As part of that package, Cornwall wants taxpayers to keep footing his $700-a-month car allowance for six more months.

Cornwall resigned on September 22 over a flap involving the city's fire department. He left behind a city with a $1.2 million budget shortfall.

Some might say that Cornwall's base salary -- more than $200,000 a year -- was excessive.  For an 11-square-mile city with about 170 employees and about 34,000 residents? Yeah, a bit much.

His was the highest city manager's salary per capita in the Valley.

When Cornwall was hired in 2003, he was paid $102,852, which means that his salary nearly doubled during his seven years at El Mirage.

But his go-away deal is even richer.

Cornwall's contract (which he wrote and the City Council approved in 2008) placed no caps on how much vacation and sick time he could save up.

He amassed 536 hours of vacation time and 768 hours of sick time. Paying those hours at his hourly rate of $97.28, the city has to shell out $126,853.12.

Other city employees can only bank up to 320 hours of vacation time, and only police officers and firefighters are paid out for any of their unused sick leave. Even then, public safety workers only get a percent of their accrued sick days after they've been working for the city for at least 10 years.

Cornwall's contract required that the city pay him for each hour of unused sick time.
Cornwall also wants the city to pay him for 120 hours of personal time that he says he never used. Cost: $11,673.60.

The trouble with Cornwall's payment requests is that he kept track his own time off. City officials tell New Times that there are almost no records as to Cornwall's use of time off over the years.

(El Mirage residents can expect things to changes. Interim City Manager and City Attorney Rick Flaeen is working to improve the system of checks and balances.)

In addition to his paid time off, Cornwall is also pocketing six months pay. Cost: $101,171.02.

Taxpayers will also continue to pay almost $1,400 a month for six months to cover his health, dental and life insurance. Cost: $8,255.82. 
Cornwall wants six months worth of deferred compensation (payments into a retirement account). Cost: $10,117.12.
He also wants the city to continue paying a $700 per month car allowance for six months. Cost: $4,200.00. 

It is unclear whether the city will pay out for the car allowance. His contract notes that the car allowance is meant to reimburse Cornwall for business use of his personal vehicle. Since he won't be conducting city business any more, the residents shouldn't get stuck with that tab.

If Cornwall gets his pay day, he will pocket $262,270.68 ... for leaving his job.

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo