Former county manager front-runner lands Va. post

FILE PHOTO - Laurie Jennings, right, meets candidate James Bourey during an Alachua County meet-and-greet on May 16.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

The Alachua County Commission’s original No. 1 pick for county manager, James Bourey, has been chosen as the new city manager in Newport News, Va.

His new position comes with an annual salary $37,000 higher than he would have received here.

Bourey, of Greenville, S.C., was the first of three finalists to enter negotiations recently with Alachua County for its top job, but he ended talks to pursue another position.

That position, he told The Sun, was city manager of Newport News.

Bourey’s negotiations with Alachua County were marked by commissioners criticizing his compensation counter-offer, including a call by one commissioner to end talks with Bourey.

Although the board voted 3-2 to approve the offer, the split vote was seen by some as a bad signal to Bourey.

Commissioner Mike Byerly later complained about how the negotiations were conducted, saying Bourey was “hounded … out of the county.’’

By contrast, Bourey said he feels welcomed in Newport News, where the City Council voted 7-0 to hire him, according to The (Newport News) Daily Press.

“I felt there was excellent support from the City Council for me,” he said.

Bourey was chosen from a pool of 42 applicants as one of four finalists interviewed by the City Council. He was the only one who was selected for a second interview.

He will start work there on July 16 earning a $202,000 annual salary, according to The Daily Press.

Bourey, who works at Elliott Davis, an accounting and consulting firm in Greenville, S.C., earns a salary of about $191,000 there. The Alachua County Commission made him an initial offer of $160,000 as a base salary, although it eventually approved an updated contract offer that included a pay bump to $165,000.

“I wasn’t going to make a decision based on money,” Bourey said.

Bourey also said Tuesday that he had said during negotiations with Alachua County that the initial salary the County Commission offered was below the market level for a manager position.

“And I still believe it was below the market,” he said.

But for him, the decision to drop out of contention for the Alachua County job and focus instead on contending for the position in Newport News wasn’t about money but about which opportunity was the better fit for him personally.

“It was really more that this was a very ideal position for me ... and so I was going to something and not running away from anything else,” Bourey said.

After Bourey ended talks with the county, the commission negotiated with its No. 2 and No. 3 candidates before finally settling on Deputy County Manager Betty Baker as its next county manager. The county is negotiating with Baker now.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or

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