MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island City Council is looking to remove the word interim from Jim Riviere’s title — making him simply city manager.
Riviere, the former Planning Board chairman, was appointed by council as interim manager following the dismissal of then-City Manager Steve Thompson in April.
“In the past three months, Jim (Riviere) has accomplished a lot,” Chairman Frank Recker said.
That includes a leaner managerial staff by eliminating five top positions.
“He (Riviere) has demonstrated managerial skills with the ability to work well with staff while making tough decisions,” Recker said.
Initially, Riviere said he wouldn’t stay past the budget process this fall. He didn’t respond Wednesday to requests from the Daily News for comment.
However, at a council meeting earlier in July, Riviere said he’d reconsider.
“I’m not Calvin Coolidge,” he responded in his common short-on-words style.
He referred to Coolidge’s famous quote: “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.”
Riviere didn’t say why he changed his mind.
“I can be pretty persuasive,” Recker said.
It wasn’t that he offered Riviere any one thing, but instead planted a seed, slowly getting Riviere to reconsider, he said.
The proposed contract is good for city coffers, Recker said. It includes an annual salary of $150,000, waiving of health benefits and a $500 monthly vehicle allowance.
There is no severance, Recker said, compared with Thompson’s $175,000 severance.
A nationwide search could cost $50,000 or more.
The decision is good for morale, too, Recker said.
“When staff sees a new person, there is fear and trepidation,” he said. “They think ‘Are they going to bring in their own directors?’”
This is Riviere’s first stint in city management. Riviere’s background as a business manager and project manager during the Anthrax scare of 2001 at the U.S. Postal Service suffices, Recker said. Membership in the Florida League of Cities and an education in municipal government aren’t necessary, he said.
“That stuff is icing on the cake, but the cake itself is there with Jim,” Recker said.
Riviere is popular, residents Bill McMullan and Steve Stefanides said.
“We got the right guy at the right time,” Stefanides said.
McMullan, who corresponds with hundreds of residents on Marco matters through an Internet newsletter, agreed.
“There is an overwhelming consensus among the people I’m talking to in the community that it’s been a nice change and they like the direction we’re going,” McMullan said.
Councilman Chuck Kiester said the title didn’t concern him.
“It’s meaningless anyway. He’s there until he quits or we fire him,” Kiester said.
Councilman Larry Magel proposed Riviere receive bonus pay for meeting council’s goals.
Riviere doesn’t need it to stay motivated, said Recker, so bonuses aren’t in the contract to be considered by council Aug. 16.
Monday’s regularly scheduled council meeting is canceled, reported City Clerk Laura Litzan. A special-called budget hearing is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Monday.