Today is the day for a decision on County Administrator’s continued employment

The time to sink or swim has come for 69-year-old Michael David Wanchick, the often-controversial St Johns County administrator hired July 30, 2007.  The current effective term of the county administrator’s Professional Services Agreement expires on January 1, 2020.

According to annually updated payroll records maintained by Historic City News, Wanchick received a salary increase on October 1, 2018, to $227,445.96 annually, plus benefits.  He had been paid $220,607.14 in Fiscal 2017-2018.

A discussion and action on a 2-year extension of the Agreement is Item 12; the last item of business on today’s St Johns County Board of Commissioners meeting.  Freshman Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker stalled on the decision regarding Wanchick’s continued employment during an April meeting; asking until the last meeting in June to better evaluate Wanchick’s performance.  Blocker also requested to have two surveys and a report from Wanchick on proposed efficiencies.  Both requests were rejected by the remainder of the Board.

Unless the Board provides the county administrator 180-days prior written notice of its intent not to renew the Agreement, the Agreement will automatically renew.  The deadline to provide such notice is July 5, 2019.

In 2011, Governor Scott signed Senate Bill 88 into law, which amends Section 215.425, Florida Statutes, in two material ways. The Bill contains significant restrictions on bonuses and severance pay for public employees.

Starting on July 1, 2011, a public employer that enters into a contract or employment agreement (or renews or renegotiates an existing contract/employment agreement containing a provision for severance pay) with an officer, agent, employee or contractor can only include a provision for severance pay (defined as actual or constructive compensation, including salary, benefits or perquisites, for employment services yet to be rendered which is provided to an employee who has recently been or is about to be terminated) in that contract if the contract contains the following:

  • A requirement that severance pay provided may not exceed an amount greater than 20 weeks of compensation.
  • A prohibition on severance pay when the employee has been terminated for misconduct as defined in Section 443.036(30), Florida Statutes.

Wanchick’s severance pay provisions in the current Agreement, Article X. Severance Pay, provide:

  1. In the event that the County Administrator is terminated by the Board for reasons other than misconduct, the County agrees to provide the County Administrator severance pay in an amount equal to twenty (20) weeks of compensation at his then existing rate of pay; payment for accrued, but unused, vacation and sick leave; and a continuation of the County’s group insurance coverage for the County administrator and his family for a period of twenty (20) weeks, which coverage shall be equivalent to the level of coverage provided on the date of termination. The cost of such coverage to the County shall not exceed the County’s cost for such coverage on the date of County Administrator’s termination. Any cost for such coverage above that amount shall be the responsibility of the County Administrator. The severance pay provided may not exceed an amount greater than 20 weeks of compensation, as provided herein.
  2. In accordance with applicable provisions of the Florida Statutes, the County Administrator shall not be entitled to severance pay if he is terminated by the Board for misconduct, as defined in section 443.036(29), F.S.
  3. If terminated by the Board for reasons other than misconduct, the County Administrator hereby agrees to accept the severance pay and compensation described herein in lieu of making any further claim or settlement for damages. The County Administrator further agrees to execute a release, holding harmless the County, its officials, employees, and agents, from any liability stemming from his employment and such termination.