Less than three months after she tried to drive away from a workday car crash, Elizabeth Quillin has agreed to walk away from her job as Henderson city attorney in exchange for almost $100,000 in severance pay.
City Council members unanimously accepted her resignation and approved her severance agreement at a special meeting Monday .
Mayor Andy Hafen said the deal protects the city from what could have been a much larger payout -- half a million dollars or more by some estimates -- had the council fired Quillin and she chose to challenge her dismissal.
Quillin did not attend the special council meeting.
She still faces misdemeanor charges of drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
She has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial on Sept. 27.
Her resignation took effect on Monday, though she has seven days to back out of the severance agreement.
In addition to a $99,500 check from the city, she will get almost $20,000 for her accrued vacation time and 10 months of health insurance coverage.
"It's a good business decision for us considering what we were facing," city Human Resources Director Fred Horvath said.
What officials were facing was Quillin's own employment contract, which narrowly defined the reasons for which she could be fired.
Had she been fired without cause, the city would have had to pay her about $320,000 in salary and benefits.
Horvath said the agreement with Quillin's attorneys was struck late Friday.
Quillin, 51, was arrested in the middle of the workday on May 23 after she crashed her Lexus SUV and then nearly ran over a woman who stopped to help her near Green Valley Ranch Resort.
According to court records, her blood alcohol level was 0.281 percent, 3½ times the legal limit.
Police said she admitted to having "bottles" of wine before the accident. When asked whether she was feeling the effects of the alcohol, she reportedly told officers, "Yes, I am (expletive) up."
Police found a full-size bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay, open and nearly empty, in her back seat and a large puddle of wine on the floorboards in front of the driver's seat.
Several City Council members said there were no good options when it came to deciding what to do about Quillin.
The fear was that the council would fire her and she would take her former employer to arbitration, just as former City Manager Mary Kay Peck did.
In February, the city was forced to pay Peck almost $1.3 million after an arbitrator upheld her breach-of-contract claim.
Quillin would have had a weaker case -- Peck was never accused of a crime -- but the risk of a judgment against the city was still there, Hafen said.
He and others called on the city to change or abandon the use of employment contracts for Henderson's city attorney, manager and clerk, all of whom are appointed by the council.
Quillin was making $190,000 a year, plus benefits. Shortly after her arrest, she checked into an alcohol treatment facility and used her sick leave and vacation time as she underwent counseling.
Hafen said he has had no contact with Quillin since her arrest.
She spent about a month on paid administrative leave before resigning Monday. A judge has barred her from drinking and ordered her to wear an ankle bracelet that will detect any alcohol use until her criminal case is settled.
Quillin joined the legal staff of Nevada's second-largest city in 2007 after stints as an assistant county manager for Clark County and as the Nevada attorney general's chief deputy for Southern Nevada. The City Council appointed her city attorney in June 2009.
The council appointed Senior Assistant City Attorney Christine Guerci-Nyhus as interim city attorney.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350.