East Lansing releases value of George Lahana’s severance package

EAST LANSING — Officials said the separation agreement with former City Manager George Lahanas signed off on by the City Council this week is anticipated to cost the city about $383,000, although that amount is likely to rise due to the city’s commitment to pay for five years health insurance for him and his family beginning in 2031.

The total includes one year’s worth of wages, $172,896, to be paid in a lump sum by next month, and health benefits through February 2024. It also includes an accrued paid time off balance payment of $46,035, which is normal practice under the city’s personnel policies, East Lansing Acting Human Resources Director Ben Dawson said in a statement.

Dawson said officials have estimated the annual cost of health care, dental and life insurance at $24,172 based on current rates. This will be “pretty accurate” for the 12 months since plans are typically negotiated and contracted at a fixed rate in line with the fiscal year, he said.

He acknowledged costs of health for the five years after Lahanas, 52, turns age 60 to bridge the gap until he is eligible for Medicare at age 65 is unknown.

East Lansing City Council voted to dismiss City Manager George Lahanas on Jan. 17, 2023.

“Since this is a future liability and will be subject to the cost of health care at the time it is utilized we are unable to provide an exact future value,” Dawson wrote.

The city is also paying for a one-year service credit from the Municipal Employees Retirement System toward Lahanas’ retirement, which is estimated at approximately $21,000. Lahanas had 24 years service with the city.

Other benefits included in the original city manager contract included a $300 monthly car allowance and an internet stipend. Those two allowances will end next month, Dawson said.

East Lansing City Council voted Tuesday night to dismiss Lahanas and hire former East Lansing Fire Chief Randy Talifarro as interim city manager. At that time the city did not release the full costs of the severance package.

Talifarro will be paid at a rate of $180,000 a year.

East Lansing Police Chief Kim Johnson speaks with East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas at a press conference in the city on May 5, 2022.

East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon wouldn’t be specific about why Lahanas was suddenly replaced, saying only that the City Council was ready to move in a different direction.

Lahanas, in a statement to the State Journal, said he has appreciated the opportunity to serve the East Lansing community the past 24 years, including 11 as city managers.

“I am proud of our many notable accomplishments including downtown development, financial sustainability, infrastructure improvements and increased citizen engagement,” he wrote. “The East Lansing City Council has decided to go in a different direction in regards to the administrative leadership of the City .With that I will be moving on to other opportunities.”

Contact Bryce Airgood at 517-267-0448 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.

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