ISLAMORADA DIRECTOR RESIGNED TO RECEIVE $2,000 HOUSING ALLOWANCE AND OTHER BENEFITS THROUGH MARCH
Former Islamorada Village Manager Greg Oravec worked his last day on January 27 following a surprising resignation announcement earlier in the month. Although he is no longer inside the town hall, Oravec will continue to receive his salary and benefits until March, in accordance with a separation agreement with the village which was approved at a recent council meeting. .
A proposed separation agreement with Oravec approved from the podium on January 27 includes salary and benefits until March 31. His annual salary was $169,500.
He will receive unused annual leave and accrued sick leave. He will also receive a housing allowance, $2,000 per month, until March 31, which can be paid either as a lump sum or as a bi-weekly salary continuation.
The village will also pay pension contributions for the regular salary that Oravec receives until March 31.
The wording of the agreement also states that Oravec and the Village may not make any public statements disparaging each other or otherwise interfering with the Village’s search for a new Village Manager and Oravec’s search for a new Village Manager. a new job.
Within his resignation, Oravec said he thinks the stage would be better served by another village director after reflecting on his last six months on the job. He was hired in June by the board following a search that initially saw some 80 applicants. his first day was July 1.
Explaining his decision to the board on Jan. 11, Oravec cited a lost appetite for the political momentum that comes with the job as part of the reasoning for his departure. In its letter, Oravec said its last day would be no later than March 31, but was open to negotiating alternative terms and timing.
CONCERN ABOUT THE AGREEMENT
Chris Fletcher, a 46-year Keys resident with a background in human resources, told the stage that what they were handing out in Oravec wasn’t fair unless there was wrongdoing by the share of the council and the village.
“This is not normal in Florida labor law. It is not correct in government law,” he said. “Would you pay someone in your company who quit for three months and pay for their housing and insurance after they told you they didn’t want the job?”
Responding to comments from the public, Councilor David Webb said Oravec’s contract had been made public before his approval last June. Webb said it was something Oravec found “minimally acceptable”.
“If we want, in my opinion, someone close to his caliber, we’ll have to do that or a little better,” Webb said. “The housing costs in the community are exorbitant. If you want an executive to chair your community board, you won’t get it for 50 cents an hour.
Following Webb’s comments, Fletcher took to the microphone to provide additional thoughts before he was told there was no compromise.
“It’s our meeting and you’ve had your three minutes,” Webb said.
The councilman added that an “employee at will is in a position of extraordinary threat. Good luck getting a local person here who has the qualifications.”
Fletcher raised his hand and told the board he would offer to take the job.
“I have the required qualities. I submit my name. I did not want. I will submit and do the work for $80,000,” Fletcher said.
Webb responded by stating “my comment was not directed at you”.
Charlotte Norris, a resident of Islamorada, said she first met Oravec during interviews last spring. Describing him as “very bright” and an “eager guy”, Norris said there was much more to the separation agreement that she “will know and anyone in Islamorada will ever know”.
Webb said Oravec’s resignation was a reality of the hardship of the job and the challenges faced at Islamorada. And he noted that the city has a “horrendous track record” with village managers staying an average of less than two years.
MARIA BASSETT IS BACK AS INTERIM VILLAGE MANAGER
Following council’s approval of the separation agreement, the dais unanimously backed a decision to bring back village finance director Maria Bassett as acting village director. She served for several months between the resignation of former village superintendent Seth Lawless and the hiring of Oravec. She will hold the position until the board finds a permanent replacement.
Before casting her vote, Councilman Henry Rosenthal asked Bassett if she would continue in her role as chief financial officer. Bassett prefaced her response by stating that she wasn’t the only option to fill the role temporarily. She said an interim director could be placed, but that would take time. She said Colin Baenziger & Associates could also help with this process. Bassett went on to say that she could fulfill her duties as chief financial officer, as she did before.
“It’s very important that we have someone with Maria’s qualifications, abilities and attitude,” Mayor Pete Bacheler said. “We’re not going to find that anywhere else. It’s right here at our front door.
Bassett will receive a 15% pay raise as she now takes on two roles. She will now receive $151,600. She also asked to receive a pension at the senior management level during this period.
SEEKING THE NEXT VILLAGE MANAGER
After lengthy discussions, the village council agreed to post a job advertisement for the position of village manager with a salary range between $150,000 and $200,000. The village will re-use recruiting firm Colin Baenziger & Associates to help with the process.
Ahead of the ruling, Village Solicitor Roget Bryan told council members that the Village could re-engage the services of the recruitment consultant to help the Village Manager search at no cost. Bryan told council members they could do a full search that would take 90 days. Once the choice is made, it would take 45 days for that person to start.
The dais also had the opportunity to review candidates that the recruiting firm had already selected for the position of Islamorada manager or another city manager position. The selection process would take 30 days and a start date 30 days later.
Rosenthal said he was opposed to the rehiring of Colin Baenziger & Associates. He said he favored returning a selection committee that chose then-director Seth Lawless or exploring county people with government backgrounds.
“Part of the problem here is just the culture of the Keys in general. Unless you’ve been here for a while, and I’m not saying a few years, you really don’t know what’s going on,” Rosenthal said.
In a recruitment brochure by Colin Baenziger & Associates, it is stated that the change of village council every two years “seems to contribute to a high turnover rate in the position of village director. The current village council has committed to changing this model and hiring a manager who will serve for five to 10 years.
Webb said community involvement is key with the search for the village manager which is again underway.
“There are thousands of people in this community of integrity and character. I have to believe they want almost the same things that we all want and everyone in this gallery wants. They have to get involved. They can’t sit in their office dealing with their next client while we’re here racking our brains and the staff are crucified for what we’ve asked them to do.
Further discussion of the search process will take place at the February 17 board meeting.