Fort Myers Beach residents continue to wait. Town Manager Roger Hernstadt’s performance must be reviewed by this town council, in a public meeting, before the end of May. There are only 2 more opportunities for that to happen, if the council follows its own rules. Hernstadt is the highest paid employee on staff.
Hernstadt came to Fort Myers Beach after leaving Marco Island where he was the town manager for three years. While he did resign, in all likelihood he would have been fired if he didn’t. Hernstadt signed a developer’s application without the Marco Island town council’s approval during a time the town was trying to moderate growth. The council was not too happy about being left in the dark about a plan to build a 165-room hotel near Veterans Community Park. Hernstadt blamed his decision on advice he received from the Marco town attorney. After resigning Hernstadt asked Marco to pay him $100,000 in severance pay, according to NBC-2.
When Hernstadt was hired back in 2017 he was getting paid $140,000. That salary jumped to $155,000 90 days later. He is 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, handcuffing future councils, which, most of the time, elected officials do not want to do.
And, for good measure, that council also extended his contract through 2024. His original contract of four years would have expired this year.