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The Marco Island City Council gave City Manager Roger Hernstadt a 5 percent raise, over the objections of two council members.

On Monday night, the council moved quickly into the evaluation of Hernstadt after hearing objections from council members Larry Honig and Victor Rios. Both asserted that they had not received the documentation necessary to complete the evaluation and suggested it be taken off the agenda.

At the last meeting in January, council agreed by consensus to hold a formal evaluation of the manager on Feb. 1 upon inquiry by Honig about scheduling a review. Council also agreed at that meeting it would be done verbally.

In the end, council member Joe Batte would follow the suggestion of Larry Sacher and move to provide Hernstadt with a 5 percent raise for the next year. Sacher, Amadeo Petricca, Bob Brown, Ken Honecker and Batte voted to give Hernstadt the thumbs up for a bump in pay. Rios and Honig voted no.

Coming into the meeting, Hernstadt’s base salary was $167,500.

In discussion, Rios began with a less than flattering review of the manager.

“We all remember the sign on Harry Truman’s desk, ‘The Buck Stops Here,’” said Rios.

Rios faulted the manager for the Smokehouse Bridge Project being late; the issues with The Esplanade, and finding fault with the city’s “bucket plan” that provides for capital-cost planning and the elimination of debt. Rios also complained that Hernstadt was too liberal spending money, however, no examples were cited. He would also find fault with the handling of the flare-up over a proposed building for Veterans’ Community Park, which has ignited a conversation on the island about continued development of the park.

Follow-on reviews from other council members were considerably more flattering.

Sacher said he did utilize the form that has been available the last two years to do his evaluation and meet with Hernstadt to discuss it. He pointed out that Hernstadt had improved his performance in the areas Sacher felt were important, such as keeping council better informed about legislative issues.

“Roger has done a great job for this community and I feel the island is fortunate to have his 38 years of experience,” said Sacher.

Petricca agreed that Hernstadt had a different style than himself, but that he had done a good job.

“He’s learning how each of us work, and has adapted to that. We gave him direction to become involved in the community and he has done that,” said Petricca.

Council chairman Brown was equally impressed with the job that Hernstadt has done.

“He has immersed himself into this community,” said Brown. “He’s jumped right in, both he and his wife, Jessica, are a great asset to the community.”

Jokingly, Brown chided Hernstadt for being stubborn.

“Oh, he can be a little stubborn, but I’m not sure that isn’t true about us all,” said Brown.

Honig was the only other member at the dais who would be lukewarm in support of the manager.

“I prefer to make many of my comments in private, but those comments are meant to be positive. I’m not sure, however, that those have been taken to heart. Although I championed a raise for him last year, I’m not sure I can this year,” said Honig.

Honecker praised Hernstadt and his accomplishments.

“I am very pleased with his performance. We have a true professional here and we are lucky to have him,” he said. Honecker gave an example of how Hernstadt had managed the negotiations on labor contracts and saved the city more than $72,000 last year in legal fees associated with those negotiations.

“He is not overpaid and a review of similar positions finds him on the low end, therefore, I can support an increase,” said Honecker.

Batte gave Hernstadt an “A” across the board.

“I’ve worked with a total four managers and Roger is by far the best,” said Batte. “I meet with him as the need arises and he is very cooperative in communicating to me the necessary information and facts.”

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