By Agrippina Fadel
Kathleen Gunn has officially taken on the role of Tamarac city manager after the city commission voted to move her contract forward on December 8.
Gunn receives $225,000 per year and will get the retroactive pay from the months she worked as an interim city manager after being appointed on August 31.
When Gunn presented her new employment agreement at the workshop on October 27, the commission members had a lot of questions and asked for a few parts of the contract to be revised.
Commissioners Mike Gelin and Debra Placko voiced their performance management and appraisal concerns. Commissioner Marlon Bolton asked if the city has benchmarked Gunn’s proposed salary to city managers’ salaries in neighboring towns.
Carmen Rodriguez, Gunn’s attorney, considers her client’s request modest compared to the previous city manager’s salary, or the $264,000 the city manager of Coconut Creek earns. The city manager of neighboring Coral Springs makes $279,000.
On Wednesday, Bolton had more questions and concerns about the contract, stating he did not have enough time to look over it.
“While Gunn is extremely qualified, I am still hesitant to make her our city manager. She is not necessarily ready for the job.” Bolton added that he wants to discuss the contract with Gunn before he is willing to cast a supportive vote.
Placko said she trusts Gunn will do a great job but is concerned about the contract missing the clear performance evaluation guidance.
“We have to allow her to know how she is going to be evaluated. Without telling her that upfront, we are not being fair to Gunn,” Placko added.
Rodrigues said that while she appreciated the objective to protect Gunn, the contract and the performance appraisal are not linked as a matter of labor relations.
She reminded the members of the commission that they could change the performance standards at any time. On behalf of her client, Rodrigues asked the commission to vote on the employment agreement and then discuss the performance evaluation during the strategic planning.
“When you look at the issues of fairness, job security, and expectations, we had done everything that you had requested when you requested it. You wanted this employment agreement patterned after Coral Springs and Sunrise. We went back and did exactly that,” said Rodrigues.
Both cities have city managers agreements that call for a two-tier process – to first have a contract in place and then develop objectives for performance appraisal that eventually become part of the existing contract. “We brought you back exactly what you directed,” said Rodrigues.
Gelin said the commission has been fair to Gunn by not subjecting her to a wide search for other candidates and competition.
“You have to understand our hesitation to move too quickly on the contract when we had a prior city manager that committed crimes against developers. We want to make sure we dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s,” he added.
Vice Mayor Elvin Villalobos sees all the changes the commission had requested implemented in the employment agreement, said it was unfair to prolong confirming Gunn’s contract.
Mayor Michelle Gomez said Gunn will be the first female city manager on Tamarac and wondered if the commission would be putting her through the same process if she were a man.
“It is our job to deal with performance evaluation, and we have not done it. We cannot piggyback it to Gunn’s contract. We are doing a disservice to our city and showing that we cannot stand by our words, and we look foolish. I don’t like to look foolish,” she said.
The commission members voted 3-2 for Gunn’s employment agreement, with Gelin and Bolton voting no.
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- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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