CLEVELAND — White County commissioners voted Thursday to fire County Manager Alton Brown, 12 days after his arrest by Cleveland police on a DUI charge.
Brown, who was hired as county manager in April 2003, will receive a six-month severance package worth about $53,000, half of his annual salary.
The vote came after an hourlong executive session Thursday morning during which Brown briefly appeared before the board.
Following the unopposed vote, Commission Chairman Travis Turner said the board appreciated Brown’s 6.5 years of service to White County.
"Anytime you vote to terminate someone, it’s a difficult situation," Turner said after the meeting. "You’re dealing with people’s lives. It’s not easy."
Turner declined to address Brown’s arrest specifically, saying only that the termination fell under the terms of Brown’s contract. Brown left the commission offices prior to the vote and was not available for comment Thursday.
Turner will continue to act as county manager until commissioners decided whether to appoint an interim manager or advertise for outside candidates. Commissioners are expected to meet again soon to discuss the future of the position, a task unexpected two weeks ago.
"We weren’t anticipating having to do this," Turner said.
In the meantime, Turner said he trusts the county’s department heads to keep services for the county of 25,000 running smoothly.
"White County has been blessed over the years with strong department heads who have many years of experience," Turner said. "I have the utmost confidence we’ll be able to continue to conduct county business as usual and the citizens will get the same quality services they’ve come to expect."
Brown, 62, was pulled over at 1:30 a.m. on July 11 after an officer spotted him driving erratically in downtown Cleveland. He refused to take a breath test and officers found an open container of alcohol in his Chevrolet Suburban, police said.
Brown was charged with DUI and having an open container and taken to the White County Jail, where he later posted bond.
Brown’s DUI charge remains pending.