As Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper prepares to leave her role with the city, she is also gearing up to receive a $118,000 lump-sum payment. That compensation, offered as consideration for accepting the terms of her Nov. 5 resignation agreement and providing up to 75 hours of consulting after her last day, represents nearly 70 percent of her annual salary — an amount not all City Council members approved.
According to interim City Manager Cathy Ball, Council held a closed session vote on the amount of Hooper’s compensation. Mayor Esther Manheimer, Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler, and Council members Keith Young, Sheneika Smith and Brian Haynes all voted in favor of the agreement, while Vijay Kapoor and Julie Mayfield voted in opposition.
Mayfield said the reason for her vote was simple: “I would not have accepted Tammy’s resignation.” Because Hooper reports directly to the city manager under Asheville’s charter, Council members have no formal authority over her employment status. Mayfield thus used the vote to express her disagreement with the chief’s departure.
“I know that there are lots of people who have expressed concerns, and I know that there have been certainly some troubling incidents during her tenure,” Mayfield commented. “But I think on the whole, she has done a tremendous amount to unite the department and to bring it forward. I am going to be sorry to see her go.”
Mayfield declined to comment on whether she regarded Hooper’s compensation as appropriate. “If you disagree with the underlying [decision], the rest of it doesn’t really matter,” she said. Kapoor, who also voted against the agreement, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Manheimer, who signed the agreement with Hooper, referred Xpress to the terms of the agreement regarding the basis for the compensation. Beyond her consulting services “to insure a smooth transition” after her departure, Hooper is being paid for remaining in her role after the firing of former City manager Gary Jackson, settling any disputes with the city and agreeing not to engage in legal action against elected officials or staff.
However, Manheimer did not provide further details about how Council decided the cost of those items or at what value each was assessed. The other four Council members who voted to approve the agreement did not respond to requests for comment.
Hooper’s last day with the city will be Wednesday, Jan. 2. Deputy Chief Wade Wood will serve as interim chief in her absence; city officials have not yet shared details of a planned national search for Hooper’s long-term replacement.