Georgia water utility pays former leader $1.4 million to depart

The Macon Water Authority will pay its former leader $1.4 million through 2024 after board members agreed to a settlement with Robert “Tony” Rojas in a closed-door meeting. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Caption
The Macon Water Authority will pay its former leader $1.4 million through 2024 after board members agreed to a settlement with Robert “Tony” Rojas in a closed-door meeting. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

MACON — The Macon Water Authority will pay its former leader $1.4 million through 2024 after board members agreed to a settlement with Robert “Tony” Rojas in a closed-door meeting.

WMAZ-TV obtained the settlement through an open records request. The schedule shows Rojas will receive $250,000 on Dec. 1 and then $400,000 on Jan. 1, 2022, and Jan. 1, 2023. A final payment of $350,000 will be made on Jan. 1, 2024.

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The board spent two hours discussing personnel matters in a closed meeting May 11, unanimously approving the agreement. Board members signed the settlement with Rojas that night and on May 13. The next day, the authority announced Rojas would retire May 24.

Rojas’ contract ran for four years, necessitating a severance agreement to end his employment earlier.

The settlement specified that Rojas and the authority issue a joint announcement and that neither speak negatively of the other.

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“Mr. Rojas retires from the award-winning water utility after providing leadership during some of the most prosperous yet challenging times in the history of the authority,” the board said in a news release.

Rojas portrayed the departure as voluntary, saying the pandemic and “other issues” had been “especially challenging.” A 2019 ransomware attack hurt water system operations.

"I have decided this is the time to step away from my daily professional responsibilities at the Authority and take time to enjoy friends and family and just relax,” Rojas said in the release.

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Repeated attempts by WMAZ-TV to reach Rojas by phone and at his home were unsuccessful.

If Rojas had resigned with “good cause” because he was reassigned or demoted, he would have received his salary and the value of his benefits only until the end of the current year.

Board members have since hired consultants to find Rojas' replacement.

Ray Shell, the authority’s vice president of field and plant operations, is serving as interim executive director.