PUEBLO, Colo. - Pueblo City Council unanimously voted to stop paying the salary of the county's transportation director, who coached three City Council members about how to handle controversial issues in the city.
Greg Severance violated city policy by sending emails with disparaging remarks, according to a resolution adopted by the council Monday night.
Even though Severance is a county employee, the majority of his salary is managed by the city. Severance receives about $83,000 from state and federal funds that are monitored by the city, according to City Manager Sam Azad. That equates to roughly 80 percent of his salary. The remainder is paid by the county.
Councilman Chris Nicoll asked the city to draft the resolution after reading the emails that Severance exchanged with Sandy Daff, Ami Nawrocki and then-councilman Chris Kaufman, who resigned two weeks ago amidst the controversy.
In the emails, Severance referred to trash collectors as the "mafia haulers" and described a Vietnam veteran as "mentally challenged... Agent Orange like."
"This just addresses specific behavior and I think it's the right way to address what's transpired," said Nicoll of the resolution.
County commissioners placed Severance on paid administrative leave on Aug. 6 pending the outcome of an investigation being done by the county.
After the council made its decision on Severance, council members struck down, in a 4- 2 vote, an agreement that would have entered the city into an agreement with a consultant to study the city's solid waste and trash issues. Nawrocki and Ed Brown voted in favor of hiring a consultant.
The vote drew applause from many in the crowd, who felt that the council was wasting money by hiring a consultant. Council's consideration of a consultant drew criticism after email exchanges showed Severance urged Kaufman, Nawrocki and Daff to expedite the process of hiring a consultant, before opponents could gain significant momentum.
Severance told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that he sincerely regrets the hurtful comments that he made.
On Monday, City Council also voted to put a question on the ballot in November that, if approved, would raise the sales tax by half a cent to fund public safety.