The way forward will be decided at the Thursday, Oct. 2 meeting of the Key Colony Beach City Council. The council will have two options — to find and hire a new city manager, or revert to its old ways and have the elected mayor act as the city manager.
On Sept. 24 it was announced that Chris Moonis would not seek to renew his contract as KCB city manager.
“It wasn’t a good fit. We didn’t click. We wish him well. He’s moving and we’re moving on,” said Mayor John DeNeale.
Prior to hiring Moonis, the little village in the Middle Keys had a strong-mayor structure of government. The top elected official received an additional $2,000 in salary on top of the base $8,000 that all commissioners receive. The council voted in 2018 to amend its charter to allow for a city manager.
Moonis was hired in January 2017 at $60,000 a year for part-time management, described as 80 hours a month, and subsequently saw his salary increase to $130,000 plus benefits with an estimated value of $200,000.
Moonis did not reply to the Keys Weekly for comment.
“I am the one that wanted to hire a city administrator in the first place,” DeNeale said. “The job has become way too complex. We have to deal with DEM and DEO and FEMA; the alphabet soup is hard to keep up with. Plus we’re dealing with sea level rise and building a new city hall that was destroyed in Hurricane Irma.”
The five-member commission consists of DeNeale, April Tracy, Kimmeron Lisle, Patricia Trefry and Ron Sutton. Lisle, Trefry and Sutton are up for re-election. Newcomer Thomas Harding has also put his hat in the ring. The top three vote getters will assume their seats after the Nov. 3 election. DeNeale’s term as mayor ends in December.
Besides deciding on a new city manager, and reorganizing the mayor and vice mayor positions, the council will need to replace KCB’s longtime attorney of 31 years, Tom Wright. He will be retiring in December, according to DeNeale.
Key Colony Beach has also scaled down its vision for the new city hall. Although it has a FEMA grant for up to $3.2 million, the previous state budget did not include an important $500,000 grant to rebuild. The downsizing measures will include locating the post office in the main building, reducing office space by 10% and doing away with other “good, but expensive” building materials, interior products and design.