District I Key West City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley put the issue of extending City Manager Jim Scholl’s contract into perspective.
“Look at Walter Alston, he had a one year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 27 years. Sometimes one-year contracts are a good thing. This will give us a chance to see his style and mark his accomplishments,” stated Commissioner Weekley inside Old City Hall.
Alston is a Hall of Fame club manager noted for his ability to out-think and out perform his every other man in baseball’s opposing dugout. He’s in the same ballpark as Tommy Lasorda for his World Series Championships.
His reasoning resonating through the dais, as all commissioners and Mayor Craig Cates voted to keep Scholl onboard, but not first without discussion.
“I feel the price we pay for our city manager’s salary is very high compared to other cities our size and I would like to renegotiate his contract, and get a better deal for the city when all businesses are struggling and working for less,” remarked Mayor Craig Cates.
Sharing his sentiments, District III City Commissioner Billy Wardlow, “I agree. I would like to save a couple dollars and spread it around to come of the lower employees we have on staff.”
Scholl addressed everyone, reminding them that when he took the job he wanted his salary to be transparent. Scholl makes $180,000 a year, and he does not accept medical (Scholl is covered from his years serving in the United States Navy), a cell phone, or city vehicle.
“When it went out,” Scholl reminded the commission and mayor, “the salary range that was determined was to be between $165,000 and $225,000. I said I wanted to be clear how much I was being paid and I agreed to no raises.”
Mayor Craig Cates, Commissioner Wardlow, and District I City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley have not worked with Scholl for more than two months. That said, the lawmakers decided to extend his contract for one-year to examine Scholl’s management style and recognize his accomplishments—and weaknesses. Still, after the evaluation, a raise is not in the cards, Commissioner Teri Johnston calling it an “odd situation.” She also pointed out Scholl’s salary shouldn’t reflect current economic times. Lowering his salary to save money would only appear to the public, the governing body is unsure of Scholl.
“I think we are confusing performance with saving money. If we negotiate down 20% and save $36,000 does that say we have faith in our city manager? We are mixing the two subjects right now,” Commissioner Johnston warned her colleagues. “I have a problem that we are saying, “times are bad in 2010, and we are going to renegotiate your salary.’”
Scholl was brought on, District IV City Commissioner Barry Gibson weighed in, with the intention to bring stability and integrity to city government, which was partially achieved with the hires of two assistant city managers, Mark Finigan and Dave Fernandez.
“You made department heads accountable and really used a steady hand, and it’s been no easy task. You’ve really put together a good team and we constantly hear about the assistant city managers,” reminded Commissioner Gibson.
“I’m the one who’s worked with Scholl the longest,” Commissioner Clayton Lopez attested, “I wish I could spew everything out Commissioner Gibson just said. Mr. Scholl has performed admirably.”
However, Commissioners Lopez and Vice Mayor Mark Rossi are looking to see improvements regarding Scholl’s ability to actively keep staff in the know.
“I was one of his major proponents when we hired him, but I do have some serious problems with his communication skills,” remarked Vice Mayor Rossi.
Scholl will be evaluated by each commissioner before February 1 and will meet with each individually. His contract, which would have expired in July, is now in effect until July 2011.
A one-year contract extension has been granted to City Manager Jim Scholl. He will face evaluation by city faculty and staff, but his salary will remain $180,000 per year.