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Kenneth City's first town manager will earn $81,000 annually

KENNETH CITY — Town Council members have settled on the details concerning the pay and benefits their first town manager will receive.

It is expected that Matt Campbell, 42, of Crystal Beach will accept the package worked out in negotiations with Mayor Teresa Zemaitis before coming to the council for approval on Wednesday. Provided Campbell still agrees, he is expected to begin work no later than March 3. He will be paid $81,000 a year and will have access to a car while working but it will not be a take-home vehicle. It is unclear what the total package is worth. Officials had not computed the cost.

Although the final decisions were unanimous, not all council members were happy with the package. Joanne DeSimone said she thought the salary was too steep considering that this will be Campbell's first job as manager and that he is currently unemployed. Campbell was assistant to the city manager of Dunedin from September 2010 through last November. He was earning $65,000 a year for that job.

DeSimone said Kenneth City should have offered him a salary closer to the bottom of the $75,000 to $85,000 pay scale set by the council for the position. Offering him something at the low end of the scale, she said, would still give him a "nice increase."

She pointed out that the town had budgeted $82,000 for the job and that Campbell had asked for $81,000.

"Wasn't it interesting that he came up with 81?" she asked.

But the other four council members overruled her, saying that they wanted the process to be pleasant for all and to start out on a good footing.

"In a gesture of good will . . . not to be bickering over money," council member Adam Mayefsky said. This is a "positive moment for us. ... It's going to be wonderful."

Zemaitis backed him up, saying Campbell had yielded during negotiations on some other demands.

"I would like to see this on a positive note," the mayor said. "I'm not saying we give him the moon and the stars."

Council member Phil Redisch stopped the debate by saying, "I think a unanimous agreement by the council now is in order."

Council members also agreed to spend up to $4,000 for a desk, credenza and other office furniture and up to $1,500 for a computer and necessary software for the manager.

DeSimone was not the only one with concerns. After the meeting, Kenneth City police Chief Mike Rossi could be heard talking to citizens, commenting that he had received complaints from the council, notably Mayor Zemaitis, when he bought himself a desk for about $1,100 but the desk for the city manager is estimated to cost about $1,400.

The argument over spending about $3,000 for three desks for the Police Department consumed much of the summer. Zemaitis, who, as chief financial officer, oversees the purchasing, had criticized Rossi mostly for the chief's failure to follow proper procedures when buying the desks. The council overrode her concerns and the department was allowed to keep the desks.

Immediate oversight of purchases will become one of the manager's duties when he takes over, although the council will still have say-so regarding large purchases.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes on Twitter.

Kenneth City's first town manager will earn $81,000 annually 02/13/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 11:27am]

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