Two weeks after introducing her to the public, Catoosa County commissioners finalized the hire of Alisha Vaughn as new manager Tuesday night, Sept. 4.

Following a six-month-long search for a new county manager, commissioners named and introduced Vaughn as their top candidate during the Aug. 21 meeting.

After making her application and resume available as public record for a mandatory two-week period, the board unanimously approved the hire on Sept. 4.

Vaughn, who has worked as chief financial officer (CFO) for Whitfield County for the past six years, has a degree in accounting from the University of Georgia, as well as a wealth of finance experience in government.

Vaughn will become the successor to Jim Walker, who abruptly resigned during the executive session portion of a February meeting. He was paid a $54,000 settlement two weeks later.

That settlement was on Commissioner Bobby Winters’ mind Tuesday night when County Attorney Chad Young discussed some of the terms in Vaughn’s hiring contract.

“We aren’t going to do a big contract or big buyout and all like we did with this last one are we?” Winters asked.

Young replied by explaining a severance stipulation in the employment contract.

“She (Vaughn) has requested a severance provision only if she’s terminated without cause,” Young said. “If she does nothing wrong and she comes to work one day and three commissioners decide we don’t want you to be county manager anymore; under those circumstances, yes, she would be entitled to six months severance pay. If she’s terminated for cause, which for cause is, she violates any provision of our personnel policy, violates any provision of the law, fails to do her job or is unable to do her job because of an illness or disability ... any of those things are for cause and she can be terminated without any severance. If she resigns, she’s got to give you 30-days notice and she’s not entitled to any severance.”

Young stated that Vaughn requested the severance stipulation because she gave up a significant retirement package from her previous employer, Whitfield County, to take the job and will not be eligible for retirement during her first year employed.

“She requested a six-month severance ‘if you send me home without cause’,” Young said.

Young added that the only real difference in this contract and the previous one with Walker is that Vaughn won’t have a “take home” vehicle allowance.

“There is no vehicle allowance in this one,” Young said. “She’s able to use a county car while she’s here for county business, but not to drive back and forth to home.”

While Vaughn wasn’t in attendance Tuesday night, Young said she’s slated to start as the new county manager on Monday, Sept. 24.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.