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Sparks fly over discussion of possible payout to State College of Florida president

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Sparks flew when several State College of Florida trustees asked how much the payout would be if they were to part ways with President Lars Hafner.

A payout to Hafner, who has a five-year contract worth $322,819 a year, could total about $1.6 million.

Dr. Craig A. Trigueiro, one of six persons recently appointed as SCF trustees, presented the question about a payout today during a staffing and compensation subcommittee meeting.

“It’s not a minor issue,” Trigueiro said, adding that he wanted to know “in the event something happened.”

Steven Prouty, SCF’s general counsel, attempted to answer the question.

If the statute were found to apply, SCF may be limited to paying one year of the president’s salary from state funds, but that wouldn’t mean that other non-state funding sources could not be pursued to pay the remainder of the contract.

Trigueiro pressed ahead, saying he would like a definitive answer. “It’s like a dangling participle,” he said.

The Attorney General or a private attorney could give an opinion, but an opinion is not a definitive answer, Prouty said. “It’s the stuff lawsuits are made of.”

Trustee C. J. Fishman, who had sat quietly next to Trigueiro, asked whether the board had a “challenge with our president. I am not sure, Dr. T, where this is going,” he said.

Trigueiro responded the has no challenge with Hafner, and that he is planning no action involving the president. Any action, should there be any, would be a decision of the full board, he said.

For more, see Wednesday's Herald.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.