Key West City Manager Greg Veliz on Friday agreed to accept the deputy director job with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority.
He told the Keys Weekly he would absolutely support the promotion of assistant city manager Patti McLauchlin to city manager — if she wants the job.
“I don’t think she really believed I would leave, but if she wants the job, she’ll absolutely have my support,” he said. “Patti’s great and she’s in it for the right reasons.”
“This was the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” an emotional Veliz told the Keys Weekly Friday afternoon. “It was really, really tough. But it’s been a hard two years. You live your life under constant scrutiny, which is hard, not so much for me, but my family as well.”
Financial considerations also played a large part in his decision, Veliz said, adding that his own situation further emphasizes the disparity between the city’s compensation and that of other agencies and utilities.
“I wouldn’t have felt comfortable amending my own contract without being able to address the same issue for all other city employess,” Veliz said.
His contract with the city requires him to give 90 days notice before leaving. “I’d anticipate that the city would want me to stay on for those 90 days, but that will be up to them.”
As deputy director, he will be second in command of the countywide water utility.
Veliz said there will be some degree of a learning curve as he familiarizes himself with the operations of the aqueduct authority. “But to me, managing people is managing people. I don’t have a law enforcement degree and I manage a police department.”
He also said he expects his prior construction experience to serve him well with the aqueduct authority’s ongoing capital projects.