City Council to finalize new city manager's contract Monday

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Michael McNees. The five finalists for the position of Marco Island City Manager met islanders during a meet and greet session at the Marco Island Yacht Club Sunday afternoon, May 5, 2019.

Two weeks after selecting him as its first choice, the Marco Island City Council will look to formalize a contract with Mike McNees to become the next city manager.

McNees beat out 59 other candidates during the current search process, which began in February.

Although the search originally looked to place a permanent city manager in place by August, the contract terms that will be discussed Monday have a starting date of July 1.

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The City Council’s road to finding a permanent manager and providing stability to the government has been long and winding for the past few years.

Following the resignation of Roger Hernstadt two years ago, the City Council struggled to stop the revolving door in the city manager’s office.

The first search it completed failed to produce a candidate that at least five members of the City Council could agree on hiring. After conducting a second search, the Council selected Lee Niblock, whose tenure lasted a little more than three months.

Niblock’s employment was terminated after a battery investigation revealed that he had committed multiple International City and County Management Association ethics principles. Niblock was also eventually charged with one count of misdemeanor battery to which he pleaded no contest to in April.

City Council disagreed on how to fill the vacancy but ultimately struck a compromise to utilize the Florida City and County Management Association’s senior advisor program to help find an interim manager.

After council once again failed to make a hire due to a lack of a super majority, it revisited the subject following the November election, which saw two of the councilors opposing the hiring of any of the interim manager candidates replaced.

The newly formed council selected former Delray Beach City Manager David Harden, who began his employment with the city in early January.

McNees comes to Marco Island with extensive experience in municipal government, which began in Collier County where he rose to the rank of assistant county manager.

After six years as the Sarasota city manager, he left to become the Blaine County (Idaho) administrator. Blaine County is home to Sun Valley, one of the major ski-resort towns in the country.

McNees took what he referred to as a “walkabout” from government employment when he joined USA Track and Field as its chief operating officer. 

Things quickly changed though as McNees was thrust into running the organization one year later after the board of directors terminated CEO Doug Logan. 

He served in an interim capacity for two years before heading back to local government when he became the city of Melbourne's manager in 2013.

McNees lost that job last year as a result of politics when its new council - formed after the November election - voted to terminate him.

Council Chairperson Erik Brechnitz and City Attorney Alan Gabriel had negotiated with McNees since his selection. The proposed contract up for approval represents minimal changes to a template previously approved by the council.

The proposed contract includes a $185,000 salary with a matching contribution to his 401(k), which cannot exceed 6.5 percent.

McNees is eligible to receive up to $15,000 in relocation assistance.

Should the city look to terminate his employment, the contract includes a severance payment equivalent to 10 weeks of pay if termination occurs within the first two years.

The severance increases to 20 weeks after two years of employment have elapsed. 

As part of the severance agreement, the city would also be required to compensate McNees for the remaining portion of his residential lease up to $10,000.

While the city manager position is expected to take up the bulk of McNees’ time, a provision was added in the proposed contract to allow for him to seek an outside consulting or teaching position so long as the council approves of the job.

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