This Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. in the Alcazar Room at City Hall, St Augustine City Manager John Regan will attend a special meeting of the City Commission to complete the appointed City Official’s annual review.
Regan is one of only three city employees that are hired directly by the City Commission. The City Manager, City Attorney, and City Clerk are direct appointees. All department heads, including the police and fire chiefs, report directly to the city manager.
In past years, Regan’s review has been the bone of contention by various commission members, Historic City News reporters, and other observers. Although a process is in place directing the review, spelled out in Regan’s employment contract, the frequency and manner in which it has been conducted, if at all, has been less than consistent.
Some say there is no good reason for that. By making the review of Regan’s performance public, considering he is the City’s highest paid employee, it is hoped that might make his evaluators (the commission) more thorough and honest in their evaluation.
In preparation for the public meeting, Wednesday January 17, 2018, Historic City News editor Michael Gold researched the City Manager position in Florida using data collected from employee interviews and salary survey participants obtained from Seattle-based PayScale. More than 6,500 customers, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, use national data analysis firm PayScale to power pay decisions for 16 million employees.
According to city documents, the city manager is the city’s chief executive officer, is hired by the city commission and acts as liaison between the various departments of city government, the citizens of St. Augustine, and the city commission. He is responsible for the complete administrative management and delivery of the city’s services and programs.
According to PayScale, a typical “Job Description” for the position of City Manager requires the employee to oversee the various departments of a city’s municipal government, including accounting, budgeting, purchasing, and others. Financial management skills are essential, as city managers often have a direct role in overseeing the budget.
Regan lacks those skills. Regan almost exclusively relies on others with those qualifications as hand-picked department heads paying them +$90k-$100k each.
Neither Regan nor his Director of Finance, Budget and Management Mark Litzinger ($121,947) are Certified Public Accountants.
Instead he hires two other employees who are; Assistant City Manager and CPA Tim Burchfield ($147,699) and Director of Budget and Performance Management and CPA Meredith Breidenstein ($91,252).
PayScale found that most cities require the City Manager to conduct research to determine how finances should be allocated and where costs can be cut. They may take suggestions and complaints to determine how issues can be solved or improved, and investments which generate income may also be an important focus.
Bookkeeping duties relating to various transactions may be necessary, so advanced computer skills and experience with bookkeeping and forecasting software are important, PayScale found. Regan is challenged by e-mail and depends too heavily on his Administrative Coordinator.
The surveys found that much of the work is done indoors in an office setting, though a substantial amount of travel may be required to survey various areas. This job often involves working with an array of people, departments, and institutions, so strong communication skills are essential.
PayScale reported that a bachelor degree or higher in a field such as public administration and prior experience in city management are often required for this position. Regan did not have either credential and his lack of public administration training and lack of management experience shows in some of his biggest blunders over the past 8-years. In each case, the taxpayers paid the cost of his “on-the-job training” in poorly negotiated contracts, bad business relationships involving family and friends, and expensive decisions driven by emotional distractions rather than objective evaluation.
Regan turns 57-years-old on February 2. He was hired by the City of St Augustine on May 26th, 1998 and appointed City Manager by the commission in July 2010. Regan is paid a salary of $164,110.59 plus benefits annually.
- More than half of City Managers in the United States report more than 10-years of experience in the field. This area is heavily weighted toward experienced professionals. Regan still has not accumulated 10-years’ experience as a City Manager.
- Pay ranges from $48K to $160K per year and averages out to $86K per year. Regan is overpaid at $164,110 and always has been.
- Career duration averages 10-12 years in Florida. With 8-years on this job, Regan has reached the end of his useful life as City Manager and a search for a qualified City Manager should start immediately.
- Medical benefits are awarded to almost all, and a fair number earn dental coverage.
- The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job.
- Male City Managers (making up 77% of those who took the survey) greatly outnumber their female counterparts.
CITY MANAGER TASKS:
- Implement legislation enacted by elected officials and advise elected officials during the development of policies and ordinances.
- Supervise city department heads and administrative personnel.
- Oversee the preparation and administration of the annual city budget.
- Manage and coordinate the daily operation of city departments and services.