In its last meeting of the year December 16, the City Council authorized City Manager Marcus Serrano to sign a $2.591 million settlement agreement between the City and TessenderloKerley Inc. (TKI).
By Tom McDermott
In its last meeting of the year December 16, the City Council authorized City Manager Marcus Serrano to sign a $2.591 million settlement agreement between the City and TessenderloKerley Inc. (TKI). The settlement resulted from the use of a fungicide, ALT70, manufactured by TKI that contained a pesticide causing extensive damage to RGC greens last spring and led to the closing of the greens for the majority of the season.
The funds from the settlement will go into the City’s Golf Club Enterprise Fund and will cover certain operating costs and claims related to the repair and closing of the greens.
Councilmembers Kirstin Bucci and Terry McCartney, liaisons to RGC, along with Councilman Richard Slack and Corporation Counsel Kristen Wilson negotiated the settlement. Adressing club members McCartney said, “I hope tonight you feel like we earned your trust and patience.” According to McCartney, by not hiring outside lawyers, the City saved a fee of one-third of the total settlement.
At one point last year, many members were upset by what they saw as losing most of their golfing season, with some even initiating legal action against the City seeking a refund of dues.
The settlement also includes an extra $60,000 to be used at the club’s discretion if further work related to the contamination is required in the spring. McCartney said that the settlement agreement contained a clause that would keep the way in which the settlement amount was reached confidential.
Prior to the settlement announcement, Vince Toomey, the City’s longtime outside labor counsel, presented the results of an independent investigation into any possible misconduct by golf club employees, particularly General Manager Jim Buonaiuto and Greens Superintendent Chip Lafferty. Some members had accused club employees and, by extension the City, of possible negligence. Toomey seemed to put that claim to rest, telling the Council he found “nothing in the way of wrongdoing” and, in fact, praised the actions of the employees as being “exemplary.”
From the floor, Golf Commission Chair Leon Sculti thanked the Council for their work on the settlement and asked, “When do you think you’ll be announcing any reimbursement for the members?” The answer came later in the form of an alteration to the 2016 Budget introduced by McCartney that would provide a 35% discount on 2016 golf dues to 2015 members in good standing. The discount would require members to sign a release against any legal claims against the City.
Before votes were taken, Wilson prompted the five Council members who are members of RGC to make public disclosures; Bucci, McCartney, Richard Mecca, Mayor Sack, and Slack all stated that they were unbiased and had no conflict of interest in voting on the golf club matters.