Las Vegas Sun

June 24, 2019

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North Las Vegas could terminate former city manager without pay

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Qiong Liu

The North Las Vegas City Council will consider terminating former city manager Qiong Liu without a severance deal during its meeting next Wednesday, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Liu is on a self-imposed 30-day paid administrative leave through Feb. 9 to negotiate her departure from the city, where she started as an executive in 2004 and was elevated to city manager in late 2014.

The fallout surrounding Liu started during a council meeting Jan. 3 when she was scheduled to receive a performance evaluation. The evaluation was tabled for the Jan. 17 meeting.

The following day, according to a draft resolution, the council says Liu directed city staff to award her a retroactive pay raise from $190,000 to $220,000. But Liu's contract did not authorize such a pay increase, would have required formal action from the city council, and there was no precedent for city managers awarding such retroactive pay increases to themselves.

Not only would the city have owed Liu back pay since 2015, that amount would have also factored into her pension. In the Public Employees' Retirement System of Nevada system, workers receive a percentage of their three highest paid years for life, which could have potentially cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of additional dollars.

Additionally, according to the resolution, Liu directed IT staff to block the city attorney’s office from accessing her emails unless the city council took formal action at a public hearing.

Liu, whose staff page has been disabled on the city’s website, is accused of various violations such as falsifying city documents and using her position for personal gain.

“We are saddened and disappointed by the facts that have recently emerged,” said Delen Goldberg, a city spokeswoman. “Upon learning this information, and in response to the findings of internal and outside investigations, our City Council acted swiftly and decisively to initiate proceedings to suspend Dr. Liu and remove her from office. We remain focused and committed to protecting taxpayer dollars and upholding the integrity of our great city.”

In a memorandum of understanding Liu proposed Jan. 10 to human resources, she requested a severance package to include 12 months of salary and health insurance, $25,000 in retroactive pay and a lump-sum payment of stored sick pay and holiday leave among other demands.

Goldberg says council members aren’t available to discuss the issue. Assistant City Manager Ryann Juden was promoted to acting city manager in mid-January.