When, on Sunday, May 19, the entire  Summerfield town staff collectively and simultaneously announced their resignation – shocking town residents and Town Councilmembers alike – the main reason given was the treatment of Town Manager Scott Whitaker, who had led the town in that position for a dozen years, but wasn’t having his contract renewed by the Town Council.

Soon after the announcement, the Summerfield Town Council called an Emergency meeting for Monday, May 20  that was a closed session followed by an open session that lasted under five minutes.

In the open session, the town council addressed one of the grievances that town staff had stated in their resignation announcement.

The council voted to give the departing Whitaker both severance pay, and the motion the council adopted also allowed Whitaker to continue insurance benefits, which would also help cover his wife who is suffering from cancer.

The closed session lasted over two hours, but the open session was lightning fast.  The council voted to pay Whitaker six months’ severance – worth just over $100,000 – and allowed him to continue on the town’s health insurance for six months after he leaves the town government in early June.

The vote in the emergency meeting may have been in hopes that some or all of the town staff might stay; however, town councilmembers did not return calls from the Rhino Times Monday night nor did the councilmembers explain their motivations at the meeting.

The resignation announcement the day before the meeting from town staff included this paragraph: “If they had treated Scott with the dignity and respect he has earned after 12 faithful years as Manager, let him go with his severance from the very beginning, and allowed his wife to continue her cancer treatments with insurance, we would have been sad to see him go; but we would have remained. However, that is not the path they chose.”

If the May 20 vote was a move to keep county staff from resigning, there’s no evidence it was successful. Several sources in Summerfield said the town staff was gone for good no matter what actions the Town Council now takes.