No Review Planned For Town Manager

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Will this town council be derelict in their responsibility to the town taxpayers on Monday? With the 17th being the final Fort Myers Beach town council meeting in the month of May, it appears the council will not be evaluating the performance of the town manager, which they are required to do, according to his contract.

Roger Hernstadt’s contract (see below) states that the council shall review and evaluate his performance annually at a public meeting between February 1st and May 31st with the performance clearly stated on the agenda. The contract also states that the council shall assign priorities and a timeframe to accomplish goals and performance objectives. The Monday town council meeting agenda is out and Hernstadt’s performance review is not listed. The council does not meet again in May.

Hernstadt is the highest paid employee the Fort Myers Beach taxpayers are footing the bill for. When Hernstadt was hired back in 2017 he was getting paid $140,000. That salary jumped to $155,000 ninety days later. He’s now paid a base salary of $171,000 which includes 15 days to work from home, not including his vacation time. He also receives $600 per month vehicle allowance.

Hernstadt’s pay increase to $171,000 was extremely controversial. It was railroaded through by the council in March of 2019, pushed by former Mayor Tracy Gore, who was about to be replaced on the council along with Dennis Boback.

Anita Cereceda was the lone voice against the last-minute raise because Hernstadt’s contract called for a public evaluation, not a salary evaluation. With help from Joanne Shamp the raise was passed.

The failure to evaluate the highest paid employee falls at the feet of the Mayor who, with the town manager, sets the agenda. It’s also up to the town attorney to bring it to the attention of the council that this is their responsibility, according to Hernstadt’s contract.

Hernstadt’s contract was also extended by the Gore council and now runs through 2024. His original contract of four years would have expired this year.