Mayor Gérald Tremblay says the two civil servants are being given severance pay in order to avoid legal action. ((CBC))

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay is defending generous severance packages for two senior bureaucrats dismissed Tuesday in connection with the city's contentious water-meter contract.

City manager Claude Léger and the director of corporate affairs, Robert Cassius de Linval, were fired after the damning report released by the city's auditor general.

The report said elected officials were not given sufficient information before adopting the $355-million contract, the biggest ever awarded by the city.

But Tremblay fired the two men without cause, meaning they could keep the equivalent of one year's salary. Léger is entitled to $244,000 and Cassius de Linval $180,000.

The news was a shock to Tremblay's main opponent in the Nov.1 municipal election.

"I think that all Montrealers will be scandalized," said Vision Montreal leader Louise Harel.

Tremblay said his actions were intended to protect the city.

"There's always legal recourses and if there's legal recourses it means it's going to cost more in lawyers' fees than the compensation that I've given them," he said.

Costs unknown, mayor says

In a related development, there are reports the mayor's decision to cancel the water-meter contract after the auditor's report will cost nearly $75 million.

The TVA television network cites a document produced by the GÉNIeau consortium, which was awarded the contract in November 2007.


Former city manager Claude Léger, left, and director of corporate affairs Robert Cassius de Linval will receive a total of $424,000. ((CBC))

In the document, the consortium is said to be demanding $21 million for the water-transmission system; $10 million in fees for sub-contractors already hired, and $26.3 million for the loss of profits related to the termination of the 25-year contract.

After announcing the cancellation of the contract Tuesday, Tremblay said that he did not know how much the move would cost and that he did not expect those figures before the election.