AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Atlanta Beltline Inc. CEO to leave with boost in severance pay

Atlanta Beltline Inc. CEO Paul Morris is leaving his post with a parting gift worth thousands of dollars, agency records show.

A new employment contract approved before Morris' resignation gives him severance pay worth $142,600, $17,850 more than it would have been had he stepped down earlier, according to AJC calculations based on the terms of his contracts.

That July contract — passed as concerns swirled over Beltline Inc.'s failure to create mandated affordable housing — also gave him a raise worth $35,700.  Morris' total severance will be $142,600, or six months of his $285,200 base salary, the contracts show.

Board chair John Somerhalder signed the new contract one day before the board's Wednesday vote to part ways with Morris, it shows.

Beltline Inc. declined comment through a spokeswoman,

Morris stepped down Wednesday amid complaints that the agency in charge of building the 22-mile network of parks, trails and transit had dragged its feet on its requirement to create 5,600 affordable homes along the route. City council required they be built as part of the resolution to use tax dollars to fund the Beltline’s construction

Brian McGowan, former head of Invest Atlanta, will take Morris’ place. He pledged to make affordable homes a top priority.

Morris’ last day will be Sept. 10.

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