Carolyn Smith will not work another day as president of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp.

In a lengthy closed session of the agency’s monthly board meeting Wednesday evening, the board unanimously accepted an offer by Smith to step down from her post immediately. Smith had been working out a 90-day period and would have otherwise left Oct. 21. She was ousted by the SEDC board in late July without cause after a investigation revealed a clandestine system of bonuses at the agency.

Two weeks ago Mayor Jerry Sanders asked the SEDC board to order Smith to step down immediately after an independent audit concluded that the actions of the agency “rose to the level of fraud.”

“This certainly will allow SEDC to move forward, and begin to rebuild the public’s trust,” said mayoral spokesman Darren Pudgil.

Sanders also asked the board to revisit Smith’s termination agreement, which includes a $100,350 severance payment. That agreement remains intact, said Cruz Gonzalez, SEDC board chairman.

Smith did not make a statement at the meeting. Gonzalez thanked her for her hard work and dedication over 14 years at the agency.

SEDC is now left without a leader. According to the audit of the agency, few decisions were made at SEDC without Smith’s approval. Auditors concluded that only one staff member, Finance Director Dante Dayacap, might conceivably take over some of Smith’s many roles at the agency. Dayacap is currently on medical leave and has not worked at the agency for weeks.

The Executive Committee of SEDC’s board will now begin accepting suggestions for interim leaders of the troubled agency, Gonzalez said. He said he would accept nominations for potential leaders from the board members and from the City Council.

An executive search firm will eventually be hired to find a replacement for Smith, a process board members cautioned could take months.


Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.