Grayson Path

After “a long process” of multiple screenings and interviews, Paris City Council has selected a new city manager, Mayor Steve Clifford announced Monday night.

Grayson Path, of Nebraska City, Nebraska, will be relocating to Paris to accept the position, Clifford said. His start date is yet to be announced.

Path has been the city manager in Nebraska City from June 2015 to present. He previously worked in Kansas for several years. He has a family with two young children, Clifford said.

“We had three excellent candidates; it was a difficult decision. Each one brought his own benefits and advantages,” Clifford said. “We were all very excited about Mr. Path.”

Clifford contacted Path immediately following the meeting Monday to notify him of his offer, he said. A total rewards package includes a base salary of the mid to high $100,000 range, plus customary fringe benefits including health and life insurance, a retirement program, vehicle allowance and relocation assistance.

Path was one of three final all-male candidates for the position, after City Council narrowed its search to a final four and one candidate withdrew. The city received 30 applications total, officials said previously. Search firm Baker Tilly weeded out 16 of those applications as “not the best qualified” based on the criteria given by City Council. The remaining 14 faced further review, interim city manager Gene Anderson said.

Anderson was appointed interim manager upon the Aug. 19, 2019, resignation of former city manager John Godwin, who came under fire for his management style. The council selected Baker Tilly to manage the search on Sept. 30 after several firms gave earlier presentations.

Godwin resigned his position only a week after he was suspended with pay. He had held the position for seven years.

Councilors spoke in phone conversations with The Paris News at the time of Godwin’s resignation, giving some insight to concerns that led to a 4-2 vote to suspend him.

Clifford said he believed the council acted in the best interest of the city, and he was pleased the council and Godwin reached an agreement without the need for a public hearing. Several councilors spoke about “management style,” while Mayor Pro-Tem Paula Portugal was a bit more specific, saying Godwin’s leadership style was based on fear.

“Fear is not a proper motivator,” Portugal said previously. “Going forward, we need to find a city manager who uses positive reinforcement to lead our city.”

Godwin was set to receive more than $116,000 after resigning, according to a separation agreement released in September by city attorney Stephanie Harris. He received a lump sum payment of $26,307.83 for unused vacation pay minus payroll deductions and will receive $3,705.18 in six monthly payments of $617.53 for health insurance. He also was set to receive $86,308.56 in continued monthly salary payments of $14,384.76. In return, Godwin was to serve as a consultant when called upon. The agreement included a covenant against bringing litigation against the city for actions taken prior to his resignation, as well as an agreement to cooperate in the defense of any lawsuits brought against the city on or before the date of his resignation. Godwin also waived his rights to employment claims prior to Aug. 19.

Clifford called the terms of the separation agreement “more than fair,” and said it would be left to Anderson when and if he requests assistance from Godwin.

Macon Atkinson is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6963 or macon.atkinson@theparisnews.com.

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