Future raises would need to be based on performance, City Council says.
Matt Morton has been extended a salary offer of $145,000 to become the third city manager in Palm Coast’s history. If, in the future, he wants a raise, the City Council wants it to be based on performance, and he has no problem with that.
The contract that was brought before the council on March 19 indicated that Morton would be given automatic raises, just like directors, thereby avoiding the public discussion of his salary on a regular basis. But, Mayor Milissa Holland, Councilman Jack Howell and Councilman Nick Klufas said they have all been evaluated for their own jobs on performance in the private sector, and they felt the same scrutiny should apply to Morton. (Howell, a retired colonel, also worked in education.)
Private-sector salary discussions are not held in the public as they are for a city manager, and so they might be uncomfortable, Holland said. But, “anyone that is hired understands that walking in the door. … It’s what they’re signed up for.”
In a phone interview with the Palm Coast Observer after the meeting, which he watched online from Washington state, Morton said he sees no obstacles to moving forward with the contract, despite the changes.
"Transparency is important," he said. "I have no anxiety or fear about being evaluated publicly."
Start date and severance
Morton is required to relocate to Palm Coast within six months of his first day of work, which is April 8.
If Morton is ever terminated, his severance package would be capped at five months’ salary plus other benefits, for about $132,000. Former City Manager Jim Landon’s severance was six months’ plus other benefits, for about $238,000. Landon's base salary was $177,000 when he was terminated.
Holland said she was concerned that in early meetings with Morton, one director on staff was “not as pleasant as I would have liked.” To help resolve the friction between Morton and staff, Holland asked for help from the man she had passed over for the job and who will soon to be reporting to Morton: Beau Falgout.
“Change is not easy … but we have a responsibility to the public and to the community to make decisions in the best interest of moving forward,” Holland said.
Falgout, who is now serving as interim city manager, told Holland he has daily calls with Morton. “He and I are committed to a seamless transition on his first day,” he said.
After the meeting, Falgout added, "Before this process started, before even the former manager was terminated, I said my role in life was to help the city transition to the next city manager, whether that was me or someone else, and I’m committed to doing that."
Nestor Abreu to retire
Longtime city employee Nestor Abreu, who has been a director of Community Development and most recently Public Works, is retiring March 29. (Falgout noted that this was not related to the transition to a new city manager.)
Falgout said the news was bittersweet; Abreu was the first director Falgout worked for in 2007. Abreu helped the city weather the recession, Falgout said.
“He’s truly been part of building this organization,” Falgout said.