MARCO ISLAND — Appraisals of City Manager Jim Riviere ranged from a low of fair to a high of outstanding during Marco Island’s City Council Monday. Even with no failing grades, council refused to approve a pay raise for the city’s CEO.
The balance of city employees would receive two-percent increases, councilor Larry Magel said as he made the motion for the increase. The vote to extend the raise amount to Riviere was narrowly defeated 3-4.
Chairman Joe Batte, vice chairman Ken Honecker and councilors Amadeo Petricca and Larry Sacher opposed the increase. Performance reviews were least favorable from three of the four voting against the raise.
Sacher gave Riviere an overall performance rating of “fair,” saying the manager appeared to be under the influence of certain councilors. Sacher also was not satisfied Riviere held city staff accountable for rude behavior toward citizen volunteers.
Petricca pointed to the lack of response to records requests as one failing of the manager. He also felt information about canceling the rescue boat contract was not forthcoming.
Honecker gave the manager an “average,” clearly concerned he did not have the professional know-how to run a city. However, Honecker credited Riviere for applying for training leading to city manager credentials.
Batte offered a mixed bag of praise rating the manager as either meeting or exceeding most expectations. Several councilors felt Riviere failed to complete performance reviews for subordinates; and if done, the reviews would have improved the city’s performance and given validity to promotions and raises.
Councilor Chuck Kiester gave Riviere the highest rating, saying the city manager’s performance was outstanding. He said Riviere got results without micro-managing his staff, and perhaps council should do the same with the manager.
Councilor Larry Magel agreed that looking at results was an appropriate measure of the city manager’s performance. In giving high marks, he applauded the manager for eliminating “expensive staff” and creating surpluses over budget: $1.5 million in his first year and $800,000 in his second.
Councilor Larry Honig used an analytical approach to review Riviere’s performance with very high marks for getting the job done and slightly lower but still high grades for listening and communicating.
Riviere sat quietly while each councilor publicly aired his opinions. Written evaluations were handed to the city clerk to become public record.
Russ Colombo, speaking on the appraisal from the public, said he hoped the city never witnessed this kind of performance review again. On Tuesday, he said he was frustrated by what he felt was a non-productive better part of an hour.
“I had every hope we would come out of this with a process and not have to sit through another performance evaluation like this next year,” he said.
Earlier in the meeting, councilors considered a proposal to accept a BP Promotional Fund Award under the Gulf Tourism and Seafood Promotion Fund. A grant of $500,000 is available to the city as part of BP’s aid to economic recovery from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill. The money will be used to construct artificial reefs off Marco’s shores.
Peter Flood, coordinating the effort for Naples and Collier County, asked councilors to join in the project with the two governments that have received similar awards. The construction of 36 reefs along the Collier County’s coast will cost $3.8 million. Grant awards total $1.35 million.
For Marco, two clusters of 6 reefs each will be placed offshore, one 25 miles from Caxambas Pass and the other 12 miles from Big Marco Pass. The reefs are expected to reach maturity within a few years and attract anglers by offering more abundant fish.
The remaining $2.45 million needed for the reefs will be raised from private sources, Flood said. The project will be open to 36 naming opportunities, one per reef, at $55,000 each. Other donations also will be accepted, Flood said, and no taxpayer revenues will be used.
City council unanimously voted to join the project and accept BP’s award. Mike Taworski, a Naples diver and fisherman, warned council that artificial reefs were not an exciting drive for scuba enthusiasts, and that any concrete used in manufacturing reefs should be checked for toxic content.
In other action, council passed on second reading the ordinance for use of vacant lots in seawall staging, production and repair. The ordinance passed 5-2 with Magel and Batte opposed.