City manager’s request for salary jump denied

PAHOKEE — On a 4-1 vote last week following a discussion delayed from their previous meeting, the Pahokee City Commission rejected a request from the city manager to amend his employment contract and give him a $20,000-per-year raise.

Vice Mayor Clara Murvin pressed for an up-or-down vote on City Manager Chandler Williamson’s proposal as their deliberations began Tuesday, July 24, rather than try to change the amount of the increase. Mayor Keith Babb had suggested at their July 10 meeting that perhaps the commissioners should make him a counteroffer; but, after some talks that night, they only had agreed to table the matter.

The newest city commissioner, Benny L. Everett III, stated this week that while he thought the manager was doing a commendable job, he believed the 17 percent increase over the manager’s current salary of $118,000 annually was too much.

“I do give our city manager a good rating, but I’m just not in agreement with the request,” he said, calling it “relatively high, considering what was already awarded the year prior,” which was about a 15 percent raise in 2017. “I still have confidence in him, but (that) … has nothing to do with my disagreement with the request,” Mr. Everett said.

Mayor Babb said he’d given the commission some averages of city managers’ salaries on a national basis, “which, we are well above that.” He noted that “our regular city employees are probably going to be getting around 2 percent, maybe 4 at the maximum with a merit raise on top of a cost-of-living raise.” He said he’d be comfortable with about 6 percent to 8 percent, but no higher than 10 percent, and declared that the motion to approve the contract change could be amended.

Mr. Williamson said he recommended that the commissioners vote up or down on the contract. “I don’t want a second motion on an offer … and I’ll accept whatever it is so we can move the agenda.”

When the question was called, Ms. Murvin was the only commissioner to vote yes.

On another matter, Mr. Williamson announced that City Clerk Tijauna Warner has given the city notice that she’ll be leaving in 60 days. He recommended that the commission install her deputy, Nylene Clark, as interim city clerk for 60 days and noted that the city already was advertising on its website for applications for a permanent replacement for Ms. Warner.

The commission voted to accept his recommendation, and also approved advertising for applications for a new permanent city clerk for 30 days, giving them time to select a new person before Ms. Clark’s interim service is concluded. She would be welcome to apply herself, it was pointed out.

During commissioners’ comments, Felisia Hill asked about the $800,000 the city was supposed to be getting from Palm Beach County for renovations to the city gymnasium. City Manager Williamson explained that the city is not receiving any money from the county but, rather, that “they’re doing this on our behalf as a partnership. It’s their money, it’s their project; we are the beneficiaries.”

In other business, the city commissioners:

• Approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with Palm Beach County for code enforcement activities. City Attorney Gary Brandenburg explained that “the county is funding the city with $39,000 to help the city in its code enforcement efforts.” Mr. Williamson noted that it is annual funding the city gets from the county every year to help cover salaries and operations.

• Approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a second amendment to the contract with the county for community-based agencies. Mr. Brandenburg explained that “what this does is it provides the city with $143,545 to help provide after-school programming for students ages 12 through 16, I believe.”

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