County OKs revised contract that would boost county manager pay


James Bourey, shown in this May 16, 2013 file photo, is being offered a contract to work as Alachua County's new county manager.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.

The Alachua County Commission on Tuesday approved an updated contract for its top county manager candidate, James Bourey, including a $5,000 pay bump that sets his annual salary at $165,000.

The 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Charles "Chuck" Chestnut IV and Lee Pinkoson in dissent, followed a failed motion by Chestnut to end negotiations with Bourey and proceed to the board's second choice for the position, Stockton Whitten, the deputy county manager in Brevard County.

Pinkoson supported Chestnut's motion to terminate negotiations, but it failed in a 2-3 vote with Commissioners Susan Baird, Mike Byerly and Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson in dissent.

Talks with Bourey, who works at an accounting and consulting firm in Greenville, S.C., will continue. He has a week to respond to the commission's new offer. He may accept it or propose another counteroffer, and the commission may continue negotiating or move on to Whitten.

The board last month selected Bourey as its top choice for the position, which has been filled by acting County Manager Rick Drummond since longtime leader Randall Reid departed in January 2012 to fill the same role in Sarasota County.

During negotiations, Bourey submitted a counteroffer. In a letter, he expressed his excitement for the opportunity but also mentioned his concerns over the $160,000 base salary initially proposed by the county.

He wrote he was reluctant to counter that salary but felt it falls below the market rate for similar counties both in and outside the state, and also wrote he was worried about the wide gap between that salary and his current one, which amounts to about $191,000.

"I am open to your suggestion of the best way to resolve this gap," he wrote.

During Tuesday's meeting, Pinkoson said he was a bit taken aback by Bourey's counteroffer. He said he wanted the county manager's benefits to resemble those of county employees.

"What I got from this contract is, ‘I want to be treated differently,' " Pinkoson said, adding that he thought it reflected poorly on Bourey's leadership style.

Pinkoson said the county is looking for someone who is the head of the ship but considers himself more or less a part of the team. He said he didn't get that sense from Bourey's proposal.

Byerly said it was unfair of Pinkoson to question Bourey's character, to which Pinkoson replied that he was questioning his leadership, not his character. Byerly said any candidate would negotiate and propose a counteroffer the way Bourey had.

Baird said she likes a good negotiator, especially in the manager's post. Plus, she noted, most employees don't face the possibility of being fired by the County Commission.

The commission made several changes to the contract, accepting some of Bourey's suggestions and eliminating others.

Hutchinson said the only part of the proposal that gave him "heartburn" was the severance pay allowance, which would provide a total severance payout of about $317,873 after 10 years with the county and about $433,550 after 15 years there. He said he thought that was an outrageous sum that should be capped, and the board made changes in areas such as sick leave and vacation leave to lower those payouts.

The commission approved changes that capped Bourey's accrued vacation leave at 1,000 hours but placed no cap on sick leave, which is the policy for county employees across the board.

The revised contract kept Bourey's suggested 20 weeks of post-termination benefits of health and life insurance but not the car allowance or the short- and long-term disability benefits — which the county doesn't offer for employees — that he had requested for the same time period.

He also won't receive the 3 percent salary increase he had requested to cover his Florida Retirement System contribution.

Instead of granting Bourey's request for the maximum accrual rate of vacation leave for any full-time employee, which amounts to 240 hours per year for employees of 25 years or more, the county is offering the 10-year amount of 140 hours.

He requested a credit of one year's worth of leave upon starting as county manager, but he will be given that credit at the end of his first year of employment if he accepts the updated contract.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gainesville.com.

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