Editorial: Annual Evaluation of the City Manager

The very last item of business on Monday night’s agenda before the City of St. Augustine commission is an entry Historic City News readers should note; “Annual Evaluation of the City Manager”.

City Manager John Regan is one of only three on the city payroll that are hired directly by the mayor and commission — the other two are the city attorney, Ron Brown, and, city clerk, Alison Ratkovic. Everyone else in city government, including the Chief of Police, Loran Lueders, is hired by the city manager.

It is a position of great importance to our community, much more than many residents may realize. Although the elected commissioners are charged with approval of new ordinances that regulate the city, they must answer to voters for their performance every four years at the ballot box.

The city manager has a five-year contract for employment — it endures beyond the terms of office of the mayor or individual commissioners. We do not vote for the city manager although they are the person responsible for the day-to-day operation of the city — arguably more of a burden than a treat.

The city manager in St. Augustine now earns $131,000 per year plus a number of other perquisites, insurance and other benefits. When former city manager Bill Harriss retired, he earned $134,218.79 per year.

By comparison, Jim Hanson currently serves as City Manager for the City of Atlantic Beach, a position he has held since 1999, earning $131,913.60. Michael J. Czymbor, City Manager of Fernandina Beach, earns $106,516.80 per year. City Manager of Jacksonville Beach, since 1995, George D. Forbes, earns $160,846.40.

City employees, from new hires to department heads, are subjected to annual evaluation. The results are included in the personnel files of the Human Resources department of the city and are public records.

When Regan began his new role as city manager July 1st of last year, included in his employment contract is a provision calling for annual evaluation of his performance and this will be his first report card.

First, let me say that I could not be more pleased with the new process of public review of a man who wields so much influence over every day citizen’s lives and whose decision-making impacts taxpayer’s wallets so directly.

Finally, let me say that John Regan is proving to have been a great choice for city manager. He has my respect and admiration for stepping in where angels fear to tread — keeping the business of city government running smoothly despite uninvited distractions like the city’s contract with First America Foundation.

In addition to having working well together with the two other appointees, Ron Brown and Ali Ratkovic, over whom he does not have hiring authority, he has surrounded himself with a team of seasoned professionals like Tim Burchfield, Mark Litzinger, Martha Graham, Mark Knight, Jim Piggott, Paul Williamson, Loran Lueders, Mike Arnold and Dana Ste. Claire — an administration that serves the public interest in this city with creativity, integrity and compassion.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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