Wanchick on losing end of 3-2 split vote to renew employment agreement

A new county administrator is in the offing for St Johns County, a trend observed in other local governments in northeast Florida.  Palm Coast said goodbye to Jim Landon, the City of Bunnell has a new city manager, and the Flagler County Board of Commissioners replaced their county administrator with Jerry Cameron; a former assistant county administrator under Wanchick.

At today’s commission meeting, Jeb Smith, Jimmy Johns, and Paul Waldron each voted not to renew the county administrator’s Professional Services Agreement for two more years when it expires on January 1, 2020.  So long as he gives the county a 90-day notice, Wanchick can resign at any time.

The Board is required under the Agreement to provide the county administrator 180-days prior written notice of its intent not to renew the Agreement.  Otherwise, the Agreement would automatically renew for two more years.  Since the deadline to provide such notice was July 5th, today’s decision avoids a 20-week salary penalty plus benefits under what many Historic City News readers have referred to as Wanchick’s “Golden Parachute”.

In an unexpected olive branch, Wanchick was offered the opportunity to stay on for one more full year, through December 2020.  Wanchick balked, saying that he would not be amendable to the shorter extension.  In what some took as a veiled threat if the Board would not offer him at least two years from now, meaning an 18-month extension rather than a 24-month extension effective January 1, 2020, Wanchick said, “I’ll just pursue other interests. I’d rather do that while I can and am in good position to do that.”

Jeb Smith has been a critic of Wanchick during his tenure on the Commission. Smith said it was time to give someone else a chance.  “I believe personally it’s time to move on,” Smith said.  “It’s my opinion that leadership can stay too long.”

Paul Waldron voted against retaining Wanchick during his last contract negotiation.  Waldron said that he still has concerns of Wanchick that have never been addressed.

Jimmy Johns reasoning was that he wants the current board to have the chance to pick Wanchick’s successor.

That comment was not taken as Wanchick’s final answer.  Although the Board has already voted not to renew the two-year contract, for the moment, Wanchick has a chance to accept a one-year extension.  Wanchick’s final answer is expected at the June 4th scheduled meeting.  If he doesn’t accept by then, he is officially “out the door” January 1, 2020 — unless some lesser compromise is reached.