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Roger Hernstadt Chosen as New City Manager

By Noelle H. Lowery

The city of Marco Island’s tumultuous search for a new city manager came to a close Monday night. During a special meeting, the City Council offered Roger Hernstadt — the current city manager for Marathon — the position and successfully negotiated and approved his $222,250 compensation package.

The special meeting was held after councilors spent the day interviewing Hernstadt and one other candidate, Calvin Peck, who presently serves as the city manager of Bald Head Island, NC. All parties convened in the city’s Community Room for public interviews of both candidates at 5:30 PM.

An hour later, the interviews were concluded, and the council began the difficult task of choosing which candidate would fill the position vacated by Dr. Jim Riviere last September. After two vote tallies, the council was split — four in favor of Peck and three in favor of Hernstadt. The votes were a “no-go,” though. According to the city charter, the city manager must be chosen by a super majority vote of at least five votes.

“We have to step up and make a decision here,” said Council Chairman Ken Honecker in frustration.

For some, Hernstadt’s experience working in Florida both as the assistant city manager for Miami and as Marathon’s city manager for the last four years made him the most viable candidate. For others, Peck’s military service was the trump card. In the end, it was Peck who made the decision for the city council, removing himself from consideration after Honecker called a recess to allow councilors a bit more time to consider their votes.

With the first hurdle passed and a congratulations from the dais, Hernstadt and the city council then entered into formal contract negotiations. Hernstadt’s current compensation package with the city of Marathon totals $178,520 with a base salary of $145,000. As councilors began to discuss what they would be willing to pay Hernstadt, some bristled at the offerings of $145,000 and $150,000 in base salary.

“We are appointing the CEO of Marco Island,” said Council Vice Chairman Larry Sacher. “I find it outright offensive that we would ask him to pick up his life and move his family here for a lateral move.”

By 8:30 PM, the deal was done with only one councilor — Joe Batte — voting against it, and a start date of Monday, Feb. 3 set. While Batte supported to hiring of Hernstadt, he was not in favor of the compensation package.

Here are the specifics:

  • Hernstadt’s contract with the city of Marathon requires him to provide 60 days notice for vacating his position. If he fails to do so, he will lose his accumulated paid-time-off. He has accrued roughly 700 hours, which the city of Marco Island has agreed to roll into his paid-leave bank.
  • He will receive a car allowance of $500 per month, and the city will provide a cell phone for him.
  • The city will pay “actual, reasonable moving expenses” for Hernstadt and his family.
  • Hernstadt has three months left on the lease of his home in Marathon, and the city of Marco Island will cover the cost of this cost for three months at the amount of $2,300 per month. Further, because Hernstadt will be moving to Marco Island during season when rental rates are higher than normal, the city will pay the difference between the actual rent on a home he and his family find on the island and $2,200 for three months.
  • Hernstadt’s base pay will be $155,000, and he will receive another $67,250 in employee benefits, retirement and medical insurance.

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