ST. PETE BEACH — Commissioners had a virtual love fest with City Manager Mike Bonfield Tuesday as they gave him a raise on his 12th anniversary with the city.
Bonfield, who has been the target of much animosity over the years from differing factions in the town, received universal praise from the commission for his handling of city affairs.
"I think Mike is one of the best managers I have ever worked with," Commissioner Jim Parent said. "He is well on his way to building a top organization here."
Bonfield, in turn, commended the commission for building a "good environment" for city employees.
"I don't suffer nearly, nearly the headaches my colleagues suffer in other communities," Bonfield said. "There is very little of the interference and favoritism that goes on in other communities."
Bonfield also praised the city staff, saying they are extremely professional and make decisions "for the right reason."
The commission gave Bonfield his first raise in two years: 2.5 percent, or about $3,000, bringing his total salary to $124,968. He was originally hired at $89,000 in 2002.
Bonfield's evaluation by the commission gave him an average 4.65 rating out of a possible 5 points in each of several categories: organizational and personnel management; fiscal management; planning; relations with the commission, citizens and other governments; and professional and personal characteristics.
He was particularly praised for his use of consultants, his handling of the transition from a city-operated police department to law enforcement handled by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, and being sensitive to the concerns of both residential and commercial interests as the city redevelops.
The commission said it wants Bonfield focusing in the coming year on the Corey Avenue Area redevelopment, completing contract negotiations with the fire department, improving city infrastructure, and supporting protection of existing structures in the Pass-a-Grille historic district.