By Agrippina Fadel
Kathleen Gunn is getting prepared to take on the job of city manager permanently.
On October 27, Interim City Manager Gunn presented her employment agreement and compensation package to the commission.
She is asking for $225,000 per year —less than the $272,000 salary of former City Manager Michael Cernech. However, Cernech was city manager for ten years, until his September 2 arrest on alleged charges of conspiring to extort money from developer 13th Floor Investments.
On August 31, the commission appointed Gunn as interim city manager.
Gunn told the commission that it had been a tumultuous year for the city, with tremendous change and unexpected disruptions.
“As a career-long public servant, I felt a call of duty to serve you all, those who the electorate has entrusted to lead the city. It was a right thing to do at the time of profound crisis,” she said about her decision to step up as an interim city manager.
Gunn praised the city staff and said that despite the recent challenges, the city passed a budget that reduced the millage rate for the first time in ten years and received all-time high approval ratings from residents and business owners.
“In the contract, I ask for fair compensation which is commensurate with surrounding communities, my 20 years of experience in public service, and the responsibilities and duties of this position,’ she added.
Commissioner Marlon Bolton asked if the attorneys and human resources department had benchmarked the $225,000 that Gunn is asking for as salary with other cities around Tamarac.
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.
Lerenzo Cahoon, director of human resources, said when Cernech was promoted to city manager in 2011, he was offered a $202,000 salary.
“If you put that number in perspective with a ten-year inflation, Gunn is asking for a modest salary,” he said.
Commission members had a lot of questions about benefits, car and phone allowance, travel expenses, and vacation time – all items that had significantly added to the Cernech income when he was a city manager.
After two hours of back and forth, the commission returned the contract for further work to city attorney John Herin and Gunn’s attorney Rodrigues. They will be changing the wording to include additional performance standards for the position and outline a 90-day mutual termination agreement.
Before she was hired as assistant city manager in 2017, Gunn worked for the City of Miramar from 2014 to 2017 and the City of Fort Lauderdale from 2004 to 2011, in the same role.
Gunn graduated from Pace University in New York with a bachelor of arts in political science and government and a master’s in public administration. She also earned her master’s in pastoral ministries from St. Thomas University.
Her employment agreement and compensation package will be presented again and voted on at the commission meeting on November 10.
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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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