After deciding they would give town manager Roger Hernstadt another six weeks to mull over his performance feedback, Monday’s meeting did in fact turn into a performance evaluation.
After admitting none of them knew who was supposed to put the evaluation on the agenda, as stated in the manager’s contract, town attorney John Herin said he didn’t know why the evaluation wasn’t on the agenda and if he’s given direction from the council to make sure it’s on future agenda’s he’ll make sure it will happen.
Hernstadt’s contract states clearly that the council is required to review the town manager’s performance during a public meeting between February and May. This council ignored that responsibility until yesterday, their first meeting in June and final meeting of the Summer until August.
Councilman Jim Atterholt was clearly unhappy with the way the review of the town manager went down. His original expectation was the review would take place yesterday, as Mayor Ray Murphy said it would at the last council meeting when Atterholt brought up the issue. With the issue not on the June 7th agenda when it was posted, residents were left to wonder if the highest paid employee of the town would ever have his performance evaluated. We reported last week, after a leak from inside town hall, that the item was not on the agenda to give Hernstadt time to prepare and or respond to any feedback he receives from council members. Council members were not told why the item was not on the agenda.
On Monday, Atterholt let his colleagues know he was not happy with the process falling through the cracks and said the manager himself should have been the one to initiate the process. “I’m very disappointed with this performance evaluation process. It seems like the honorable thing to do would have been to come forward, proactively, to the council just as the town attorney did with his performance evaluation. When we do it this way we create all kinds of conspiracy theories. We create all kinds of concern in the community. It’s completely unnecessary. It wastes a lot of time and energy of the council and it gets us off track.”
For over a year now, Atterholt has been saying Fort Myers Beach is on a path to a Renaissance. And, he believes a manager that can clearly communicate the positive changes on the horizon is what the beach needs now. “We have so many things going on that are positive. Given this new path that we’re on, I do think it requires a new skillset, a new perspective. If not new then improved.”
Atterholt asked Hernstadt to work on additional collaborations, additional communication and consensus building. He told Hernstadt that he was very good at serving the council but needed to do more to communicate and collaborate with the community.
Despite both Dan Allers and Atterholt leaning toward ousting Hernstadt from his job, the other three council members support him. A formal review of his performance is expected at the first meeting in August when the council returns from summer break.