MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island’s City Council wants to replace City Manager Jim Riviere quickly and confidentially. On Monday, both possibilities were discussed. Riviere announced his retirement on April 18 after serving the city for more than three years.
Councilors voted 6-1 to issue a request for submissions from recruiting firms interested in helping council with an executive-level search. Councilors hope to select a firm by June 3. Councilor Chuck Kiester voted against the motion, saying council was abdicating its responsibility by hiring a headhunter.
Even with a recruiting firm, council felt it was a good time to schedule a workshop to discuss management objectives and compensation expectations for a new city manager. Councilors agreed knowledge of utilities operations, finance and the challenges of seasonal populations were essential qualifications. They also suggested they would look for a professional with municipal management experience.
Councilor Ken Honecker said he would like to see a plan that tied compensation to performance. A range for salary and benefits was not discussed, pending review of what the market might dictate. The last recruitment search the city performed was more than four years ago.
Councilor Larry Sacher and Council Chairman Joe Batte said they would like to see the process include a way for citizens to participate. A “meet and greet” with final candidates was discussed.
In terms of Florida’s Sunshine Laws, council asked city attorney Burt Saunders if resumes sent to a recruiting firm could remain confidential until the field was narrowed to the group discussed at public meetings. Saunders said he would look into the laws and bring back an opinion.
In other cases, courts have held that recruiting firms were subject to the Sunshine Law if they conducted employment searches to hire top-ranking officials for public entities. Those ruling said the firms were acting as an arm of government in the decision-making process and were subject to the Sunshine Laws. The rulings deemed “all letters, memoranda, resumes, and travel vouchers made or received by the consultants in connection with the search were public records.”
Capri Fire proposal
On the issue of a proposal to manage or consolidate Isles of Capri Fire District, Batte defended the letter sent to Collier County Manager Leo Ochs dated April 10. The letter was forwarded to the county by Riviere who received it from Chief Mike Murphy and Deputy Chief Chris Byrne.
“Thirty days was not enough time to make an adequate proposal,” Batte said. “We did offer to sit at the table with all parties to discuss it.”
Murphy, returning from medical leave, said council should evaluate the issues associated with managing the Capri district. The island relies heavily on a reciprocal relationship between the two districts that often benefits Marco disproportionately, he said.
If changes occur in that relationship, it could affect future response to Marco Island. If the number of personnel per truck were reduced, it might require a larger number of units to respond to meet Florida’s two-in-two-out rule, requiring two firefighters to remain outside a structure before allowing two to enter.
East Naples told Capri residents it would consider reducing personnel to two per unit if the departments were consolidated. Capri’s advisory board rejected East Naples’ proposal, delaying its decision until fall when Marco Island’s proposal might be ready for consideration.
In addition, Capri currently does not have firefighter/paramedics staffing its fire trucks. When responding to Marco Island, those units are not able to offer Advanced Life Support as Marco’s firefighter/paramedics can. Consolidation with East Naples or Marco Island gives those districts an option to integrate staff so all units including Capri could offer premier life-saving ALS services.
Council voted 7-0 to send a statement of interest to the county manager, explaining it is considering a proposal for the fall.