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Marco Island City Council approves 5% raise for City Manager Mike McNees


Omar Rodríguez Ortiz   | Marco Eagle

Marco Island City Council approved on Wednesday a 5% salary increase for City Manager Mike McNees after councilors judged his performance during his first year with the city as "good" or "satisfactory."

City Council passed the amendment to McNees' employee agreement without discussion.

McNees' salary will increase from $185,000 per year to $194,250, a difference of $9,250, effective July 1. He will receive back pay for July and August, City Clerk Laura Litzan wrote in an email Sept. 2.

McNees' original employee agreement states the city may grant him a salary increase if he "receives a positive evaluation from City Council." The contract does not define a positive evaluation, it does not mandate a salary increase and it does not say how much the increase should be.

McNees may get additional salary increases every year going forward but it also depends on the "financial outlook for the city," Litzan wrote.

"There have been lean years in the past when employees did not receive raises," she wrote.

In case you missed it: Marco Island City Manager Mike McNees may get 5% raise for his 'exceptional' work

McNees also receives a $400 monthly automobile allowance and was entitled to receive up to $15,000 to reimburse his moving expenses when he was hired last year, among other benefits, his contract states.

The city hired McNees after having eight permanent, interim and acting city managers in the span of 11 years, according to a list of city managers provided by Litzan.

The last city manager who received a 5% salary increase from City Council was Roger Hernstandt, whose salary increased from $167,500 to $175,875 effective Jan. 30, 2016, Litzan wrote.

"He has been a stabilizing force for this city, one that we needed desperately," Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz said about McNees during a City Council meeting on Aug. 17.  "I think we need to keep Mike for quite a long time."

By comparison Naples City Manager Charles Chapman earns $206,000 per year in addition to benefits like a monthly $1,000 allowance to live in the city and a monthly $100 cellphone allowance, according to city officials and Chapman's contract.

In 2019, there were 22,088 people living in Naples and 17,947 in Marco Island, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's website.

City councilors must evaluate the performance of McNees each year by submitting a written evaluation and making an oral summary during a regular council meeting, McNees' contract states.

In a rating scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is "unsatisfactory" and 5 is "outstanding," city councilors rated McNees in nine standards like organizational and fiscal management; planning; relationship with City Council, staff and the public; and "personal characteristics."

City councilors Howard Reed, Vice Chairman Jared Grifoni, Charlette Roman and Victor Rios rated McNees with an overall score of 4 or "good performance," a city document shows.

Chairman Brechnitz and City Councilor Larry Honig rated McNees with an overall score of 3 or "satisfactory performance."

City Councilor Greg Folley did not provide an evaluation due do his "limited time" on the council, the document states. Folley was appointed by City Council in June following the resignation of former Councilor Sam Young.

Brechnitz said the ratings depend on "what kind of grader you are."

"I've always been a hard grader," he said.

Brechnitz said there is "absolutely nothing" wrong with McNees' performance. He said that McNees' accomplishments include "working extremely well" with City Council.

"He is responsive and we have a healthy respect for each other," he said.

Brechnitz said city staff's performance improved despite the fact that access to city buildings has been limited and some employees have been working from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"That whole process of working from home and having employees not on premises and being able to still efficiently deliver services, it all comes back to the city manager's credit," he said.

McNees said in a phone call last week that during his second year as city manager he expects to, along with City Council, address issues like canal water quality and noise and parking complaints against short-term rentals.

McNees said the city will not make significant changes to its strategy to improve water quality until it receives next year the results of a study of the source of nutrients affecting local waterways.

"Before they ramp up further spending on water quality, (city councilors) want to make sure they are spending the money where it is going to do the most good," he said Sept. 4.

The city was put on notice by Florida Department of Environmental Protection that its waterways are impaired and in need of a corrective plan after Young asked the agency to officially acknowledge its water quality issues, the Naples Daily News reported in August 2019.

McNees said in about a month he expects staff to submit to City Council a full report with recommendations to address noise and parking complaints against short-term rentals.

The city announced earlier this month it formed a task force to "address issues related to noise, parking, communication with property owners and overall compliance with local codes." The task force members are Assistant to the City Manager Casey Lucius, Finance Director Guillermo Polanco, Director of Community Affairs Daniel Smith, Chief Building Official Raul Perez, Police Chief Tracy L. Frazzano, Police Capt. Dave Baer, Fire-Rescue Chief Christopher Byrne, Fire Marshall Ray Munyon and City Attorney Alan Gabriel, Lucius wrote in an email Sept. 4. 

People who want to share their opinion or suggestions with the city can send an email to vacationrentals@cityofmarcoisland.com.

City Council voted unanimously on Aug. 17 to instruct staff to revise the city's noise ordinance after residents complained about loud renters and code enforcement during the council meeting and via e-mail.

In regard's to the city's police department, McNees said he is confident Chief Frazzano will continue to hire and train police officers while working to get the department accredited by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation.

McNees said City Council's proposal to take over all city-owned sidewalk repairs will likely have to wait because of lower sale tax revenues due to COVID-19. 

On Marco Island, most homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk in front of their property, according to the city's code of ordinances. 

"I look forward to continue working for the residents of Marco," McNees said.

Contact Omar at omar.rodriguezortiz@naplesnews.com, and follow him on Twitter as @Omar_fromPR. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.