Correction: Woodway manager resigns, city won’t pay out his contract
The City of Woodway won’t pay former City Manager Yost Zakhary for the remaining term of his contract, and a KWTX report to the contrary was in error.
“Mr. Zakhary resigned, and the city has no obligation to pay the remaining years under his contract, What Mr. Zakhary will be entitled to be paid is any accrued vacation and holiday leave, which any city employee is entitled to on separation,” City Attorney Michael Dixon said in a press release Tuesday.
Zakhary submitted his resignation late last week and Monday evening the council accepted it effective immediately.
In a letter dated April 5 that the city released Monday, Zakhary gave 60-days’ notice and said the effective date of his resignation would be June 5, but he also said he was agreeable to an earlier date.
"It is with a great deal of mixed emotions that I announce my resignation from the City of Woodway," he said in the letter.
In accepting the resignation Monday evening, the council decided to move up the date to make it effective immediately.
The decision was unanimous.
Council members then went into executive session to discuss a lawsuit filed against the city by a longtime police dispatcher.
On March 30, the council put Zakhary on administrative leave and barred him from having any contact with city employees and from entering the police department and city hall pending a public council meeting on April 9.
Finance Director William Klump was named acting city manager.
The unanimous decision to place Zakahry on paid leave came after a 90-minute closed-door meeting to consider the fate of the longtime city official, who, in the span of two weeks, resigned from his dual position as the city's police chief and was named in the sexual harassment lawsuit.
On March 19, Zakhary resigned as the city's public safety director as part of accepting responsibility for "inappropriate comments to an employee," but remained in the city manager's position.
The city's attorney, Mike Dixon, read Zakhary's resignation letter during the March 19 city council meeting following a two-hour, closed-door executive session.
Council members accepted the resignation unanimously.
It would have been effective April 11 because Zakhary was on medical leave.
Earlier this year, Zakhary had triple bypass surgery in Dallas after suffering a heart attack the year before.
Assistant Chief Bret Crook, who has served as acting chief during Zakhary's medical leave, will continue to run the 40-member public safety department when the resignation goes into effect.
Bickel, a 17-year veteran of the Woodway Department of Public Safety, filed suit in state district court against Zakhary and the City of Woodway, alleging sexual harassment the week after he resigned as chief.
Bickel alleges in the suit filed on March 26 that Zakhary "has made lewd, offensive and sexualized comments while in the workplace" and that "over time, the Woodway Public Safety Department has been permeated with Zakhary's comments of sexual innuendo, ridicule, degradation and insult."
Although Woodway has a city attorney, two additional law firms have been hired to defend the city including John Hawkins and Roy Barrett, attorneys with one of the largest law firms in Waco, Naman Howell Smith and Lee.
Zakhary, in a letter to council members that was released to the media, said that he has been “most grateful to serve this community for almost four decades and throughout this time, my goal was always to leave Woodway in a better state than when I first joined the City staff in 1979, and I truly feel as though I have accomplished that.”
“Throughout my extensive 38-year career with Woodway, I have worked tirelessly to advance the City and its residents, as well as the municipal employees, as evidenced by Woodway's improved infrastructure, both past and ongoing, and the current pay scale and benefits enjoyed by our hard-working city staff,” he said.
“This action alone effectively reduced employee turnover over the years. During my tenure, I also developed a thoughtful financial plan that has successfully ensured that the City of Woodway's general fund will be debt free in August 2018, without significantly raising the tax rate on our valued residents,” he said.
Zakhary started his law enforcement career in Woodway in 1979 as a 911 dispatcher and worked his way up to the chief’s position in 1985.
In 2001 he was promoted to the dual-position of city manager and public safety director.
He's a graduate of Baylor University and the FBI National Academy.
Zakhary served as President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police from 2013-2014, has been an Adjunct Professor at Baylor University and McLennan Community College, served as chair for the McLennan Community College Law Enforcement Advisory Committee Board, has been a member of the Heart of Texas Texas Mental Health Retardation agency board, served as president of the Waco Sunrise Rotary Club, and served as the president of the McLennan County 911 Board of Managers since its inception in 1986.
Zakhary has taught at both McLennan Community College and Baylor University.