GRU manager's $210,000 salary OK'd

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

The new general manager for Gainesville Regional Utilities will assume the position on March 3 with an annual salary of $210,000, according to the employment contract approved Monday by the City Commission without discussion.

On Dec. 17, the Gainesville City Commission selected Robert Hunzinger from a pool of five candidates to fill the general manager position, which had been vacant for 21 months.

Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said she expected to sign the contract Tuesday afternoon and express-mail it to Hunzinger for final approval.

"He was actually a very pleasant negotiating partner," Hanrahan said. "The salary negotiated was well within the range the City Commission had originally indicated."

That range was between $180,000 and $225,000.

Longtime GRU manager Mike Kurtz was forced out by the city commission in March 2006. His salary was $166,000. The city offered a the job to El Paso Electric Co. executive Andy Ramirez, but the parties deadlocked on salary during negotiations in February of last year. He demanded at least $250,000.

The only term that Hunzinger, 47, had requested was a $250,000 term-life insurance policy rather than the $100,000 policy which is standard.

"I personally have had a pretty strongly held position that for the six officers that report to the City Commission, I like to have their contracts equal," Hanrahan said.

The cost of increasing the life insurance of the six charged officers who report to the City Commission was estimated at between $158 and $611 per officer, per year depending on the rate determined by the city's insurance carrier.

"The cost estimate was pretty negligible, so we are seeking to provide $250,000 coverage for each of the charter officers," Hanrahan said.

Hunzinger served four years as general manager of Owensboro Municipal Utilities in Kentucky and is a graduate of the University of Illinois.

He couldn't be reached for comment.

Because Hunzinger has a wife and school aged-children in Kentucky who won't be moving to Gainesville until June or July, Hanrahan said they included moving and travel expenses in the contract.

Those expenses cover all costs of moving, and five trips for Hunzinger back to his home in Philpot, Ky., and three trips for his family to Gainesville, not to exceed $20,000.

Hunzinger also will be supplied with a $1,500 temporary housing stipend for up to six months or until he finds a permanent house.

The general manager position also comes with either a city-provided vehicle or $450 a month car allowance.

Megan Rolland can be reached at 338-3104 or megan.rolland@

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