The city of San Diego redevelopment executive under fire over her agency’s bonus programs has a clause in her contract that could pay her between $200,000 and $300,000 if she is terminated.

Southeastern Economic Development Corp. President Carolyn Y. Smith’s employment contract, first inked in 1994 and amended in 1996, states that she is entitled to a month’s severance pay — based on her annual compensation — for every year of employment under the agreement.

She has served as SEDC president for 14 years. It is unclear what compensation would be used to calculate any separation package. Her base salary is $172,000 for the fiscal year that began July 1, as it was last year. However, with bonuses and extra compensation included, Smith earned $261,000 last year, according to figures compiled by the Mayor’s Office.

If the payment were to be based on her salary, it would be an estimated $200,000; it would be slightly more than $300,000 if based on her total compensation from last year.

The contract also states that SEDC isn’t required to pay a severance if she is terminated “due to acts of dishonesty, gross misconduct or fraud.”

The SEDC board, which is appointed by the mayor, oversees Smith’s employment and would have to vote to terminate her employment. There is no indication the board is considering such an action; its next full meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

City Councilman Jim Madaffer called for Smith to be terminated last week, saying that SEDC should be disbanded and its duties absorbed by the city of San Diego’s Redevelopment Agency. The agency is currently structured as nonprofit organization and its major decisions — such as development agreements and its annual budget — still must be approved by the City Council.

The City Council can remove individual board members or the entire board of organizations such as SEDC with a two-thirds vote, said City Attorney Mike Aguirre.


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