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City Manager Saga

City Manager Saga

Patricia C. Behnke

Clovis Watson, Clovis, Watson, City Manager, Interim City Manager, CIty Hall
Interim City Manager/Police Commissioner Clovis Watson

Even though the Alachua City Commission voted to fire City Manager Jim Jarboe on June 5th, he still remains on the payroll as a city employee. He will remain in that capacity until the Commission can agree on a separation agreement.

City Attorney Rick Davis presented a draft separation agreement at the June 17th City Commission meeting between Jarboe and the City that he and Jarboe have been working on since June 5th. Jarboe was unable to attend Monday`s Commission meeting because of family reasons.

The agreement presented by Davis calls for a lump sum payment of six months salary, calculated at $40,975 and health insurance payments for the next three months. Jarboe also requested a lump sum payment of "accumulated, unused vacation and sick leave calculated in conformance with the established City policy."

Since no dollar amount is listed in the agreement for the vacation and sick leave pay out, Commissioner Tamara Robbins asked staff to calculate the total amount.

Commissioner Dianna Kosman-Rothseiden questioned the second section of the agreement that deals with letters of recommendation for Jarboe. A sample copy of a letter was enclosed with the draft agreement. While Kosman-Rothseiden didn`t have a problem with the formal letter being signed by the Mayor, she did have some concerns about the rest of this section of the agreement.

She specifically objected to the statement in the agreement, "The Commissioners agree individually and collectively to limit any public statements regarding the City Manager to the contents of the Letter of Recommendation."

Kosman-Rothseiden said the clause limited a quality recommendation for Jarboe because if asked she would have to tell his potential employer, "I can`t say anything other than what is written in the letter."

She further stated, "And it takes away my first amendment rights."

Robbins agreed. "I will not agree to give up my first amendment right to free speech," she said.

Another section deals with protecting both Jarboe and the City. It provides a limitation on liabilities and damages that may be claimed against Jarboe while the City employed him. Robbins wondered why this section was even in the agreement since it is covered by Florida Statutes in Chapter 768.28. Davis said that the language he added "protects both the city and city manager."

The agreement states, "The City, at all times, will indemnify and defend the City Manager and hold him harmless from losses, damages, liabilities which may arise or be claimed against City Manager arising out of his actions taken in the course of the performance of his professional duties."

Robbins pressed the attorney to explain why the language was needed if covered by statute.

Rick, Davis, Rick Davis, City Attorney
City Attorney Rick Davis

Davis finally said, "Mr. Jarboe asked for the provision to protect him."

The agreement also asks the City to pay Jarboe $375 per day if he is called back for legal proceedings as a witness.

Davis said Jarboe had indicated that if the Commission protested the witness pay, he would drop it from the agreement.

Robbins noted that the original motion to terminate the contract said that the resolution for the separation agreement would not include anything other than what was in the contract.

The Commission directed Davis to continue working on the agreement with Jarboe and to bring it back to the June 26th workshop for further discussion. Jarboe remains a paid city employee until the separation agreement is finalized.

But the Commission still needed to deal with a contract with their newly appointed interim city manager. A memo received from Rod Smith, counsel to Major Clovis Watson, listed the terms of a possible contract with the new interim city manager.

Watson is asking for the same pay as the former city manager, approximately $72,000 per year. However, he would like his title to be Interim City Manager/Police Commissioner in order to remain a member of the law enforcement special-risk pension.

Robbins asked for a review process to be added in order to evaluate Watson`s performance after 90 days. Watson agreed and said he welcomed performance reviews. At the end of the 90 days, the contract may be extended up to six months.

Watson`s contract request also stipulates that Watson "will have the absolute right to exercise an option for reinstatement to his current position as Deputy Chief (at the Police Department) at any time during his interim appointment."

Commissioner Orien Hills and Robbins wondered if the contract should allow for a notification period so that the city would not be left without a city manager.

Watson had no problem with that addition, but he assured the Commission he would always do what was best for the City just as he had for the past 20 years at the Alachua Police Department.

Mayor Bonnie Burgess said, "I think we`re getting two for the price of one here." She commended Watson for taking over and doing an excellent job just when the city needed him most.

City Commissioner Orien Hills

All of the Commissioners praised Watson`s performance so far, but Hills reminded him, "I`m watching you all the time." The Commission voted 5-0 to direct Davis and Watson to finalize an employment contract.

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