The Cost of a Contract, part 1: Administrator Danny Jordan's salary and severance package

MEDFORD, Ore. - Danny Jordan has worked for Jackson County for 13 years.

Just as the administrator, he's going on his eleventh year.

"It's a huge responsibility that you all place on my shoulders on behalf of the people that elected you and I definitely don't take it lightly," Jordan said.

Jordan was hired in 2006, but his contract was redrafted three years later by the late Jack Walker, Dave Gilmour and Dennis C.W. Smith.

"We were in deep trouble financially when he came in and we all talked about it," Smith said.

So much so that the administrator was able to negotiate, what Smith calls a pretty favorable contract.

To better understand some of the terms of the agreement, we sat down with a local employee contract attorney, who asked to stay anonymous.

The attorney says the severance agreement immediately jumped out at him.

Upon termination, Jordan completes the years he is contracted for, which automatically renews each year to secure his position, three years in advance.

After that, he is to receive three years’ severance. That means if Jordan was fired this year, he'd be paid until 2023.

Both the attorney and former Commissioner Smith agree, this length of severance, is not typical.

"[Normally] you can get six months of health insurance coverage," Smith said.

To get a better perspective, we submitted public records requests for the county administrator contracts in Deschutes County, which is smaller than Jackson but comparable, and Multnomah County, which is nearly four times in size.

We found the Deschutes administrator severance is six months, Multnomah actually has none and the Jackson gets 36 months.

Not only is his salary of $255,964.80 included for three years after his job as administrator is done, but his nearly $9,000 car allowance, $4,000 technology allowance and $12,000 housing allowance are as well.

This amounts to nearly $850,000 dollars in severance.

"The benefit of the county is we're talking about tens of millions of dollars over the years, so even though the salary and benefits look large, they're very, very small in the picture," Gilmour said.

To read part 2 of this story, click here.

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