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Largo City Manager Mac Craig forgoes pay raise despite a favorable evaluation

Despite favorable evaluations from all city commissioners, City Manager Mac Craig said he doesn't want a raise.

To trim next year's budget, he has recommended no city workers get raises, and he wants to play by the same rules, he said.

"I cannot accept a pay raise for me and then recommend that the employees for me not get one," said Craig, 72, whose annual salary is $145,600.

Commissioners on Tuesday night unanimously approved Craig's request to forgo the 3 percent increase that other nonunion managers received this fiscal year.

In their evaluations, commissioners heaped praise and had just a few specific criticisms on Craig.

Craig took the helm in July 2007, about four month's after commissioners voted to fire former City Manager Steve Stanton, who had revealed plans to become a woman. Stanton, who is now Lake Worth's city manager, changed his first name to Susan and underwent gender-reassignment surgery.

Last year, commissioners gave Craig an overall average score of "good."

This year, his evaluations were even more positive. Craig's overall performance was classified as "very good."

Commissioner Robert Murray and several other commissioners gave Craig top marks relating to his integrity.

"He is fair and open in his dealings with the commission and the public," Murray wrote.

Craig invited a coach specializing in ethics to train city executive staff and supervisors. And his department directors know that integrity is a priority, he said.

Commissioners also recognized Craig's efforts to collaborate with other governments, specifically Pinellas County.

"Mac is good at representing the city with other government entities and working toward resolving differences," wrote Mayor Pat Gerard.

Under Stanton's leadership, the city had a long, contentious relationship with the county, especially over annexation issues.

Craig said he focused on improving the relationship with the county and maintaining it.

When he first took charge, Craig recalled that he met with former County Administrator Steve Spratt to tell him "the wars between the city and the county were over."

Commissioner Mary Gray Black, who was somewhat critical of Craig last year, said she was pleased with his progress in learning his responsibilities as city manager and applying them.

Vice Mayor Gigi Arntzen also praised Craig's ability to weather the economic storm. "Even with our difficult financial times, you have continued to rally staff and provide a positive work environment," Arntzen wrote.

Two commissioners had comments on Craig's weaknesses.

Craig "needs to get out and meet the small business community. Let them know we care," said Commissioner Harriet Crozier.

Craig said he regularly attends chamber luncheons and talks to a lot of business people, but plans to make more of an effort to connect with merchants since that's an issue for Crozier.

Pat Gerard, who gave Craig excellent ratings in almost all categories, said Craig "can be a bit inflexible."

Gerard didn't want to elaborate, but said Craig, a former Army lieutenant colonel, sometimes has a strict, military "follow the rules" perspective.

Craig said he wasn't sure what Gerard meant, but he thought it may relate to his decision to suspend Police Chief Lester Aradi in June over the chief's discipline of an officer who fixed a ticket.

Craig said he and Aradi each had their own interpretation of the issue. And Craig stood by his choice.

"I still think the right thing was done there," Craig said.

City Manager Mac Craig's annual compensation

Salary: $145,600

Expense allowance: $1,200

Retirement: $17,472

Total: $164,272

The city also provides a car for Craig's official duties.

Largo City Manager Mac Craig forgoes pay raise despite a favorable evaluation 08/18/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 8:59pm]
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