Robinson City Council appointed the city’s water utilities director as acting city manager Tuesday, effective immediately.

The council appointed Greg Hobbs, 54, a week after it unanimously approved a mutual agreement to terminate former City Manager Robert Cervenka’s contract. Cervenka’s last day was Monday.

Hobbs has worked for the city since 1979. His salary did not change in the move.

Mayor Bert Echterling said city staff will review its budget to determine how it will pay for an interim or permanent city manager. The council will schedule another meeting to evaluate staff recommendations.

Council member Jeremy Stivener said he would like to start heavily recruiting for a permanent city manager but also not make any hasty decisions.

“This is a major, major event for the city of Robinson,” Stivener said.

The council Tuesday also approved in a split vote changing its sick leave policy.

Council members Steve Janics and Doye Baker voted against the change.

City Attorney Mike Dixon said the city’s policy allows employees to accumulate sick leave in case of a catastrophic sickness or injury requiring an employee to take an extended period of time off work.

The policy allowed employees to “cash out” on accrued sick leave upon leaving the city, Dixon said. The accrued sick leave payout was based on an employee’s last wage, which could be higher than the wage when he or she initially earned the sick time, he said.

Dixon said if an employee were to receive significant raises over time, that accrued sick leave payout is better than any savings account.

Council member Jimmy Rogers said the cashout on sick leave was essentially a bonus, which was never the intention of the city’s policy.

“I think everybody was pretty shocked when we discovered this was an option here,” Rogers said.

No one during the meeting referenced Cervenka during the talks about the sick leave policy.

However, the mutual agreement to terminate Cervenka’s contract stated that the city opted to avoid potential litigation by paying Cervenka his accrued and unused sick leave balance.

Cervenka was the highest-paid city employee at the time, making $137,259.20 annually. The next highest-paid Robinson employee is the police chief, at $88,004.80 per year.

In parting ways with Cervenka, the city agreed to pay him a lump sum of $68,629.60, minus required payroll deductions for taxes, Social Security and retirement contributions.

The city also will pay him for his accrued and unused vacation time and its matching retirement contributions withheld from Cervenka’s lump-sum payment.

According to the termination agreement, the city made the move to end Cervenka’s contract because the council wanted a management change.

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