Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey and City Manager Posivach agree to mutual parting

PORT RICHEY — Likening her critics to "sharks swimming in a circle," City Manager Ellen Posivach moved to end her brief and contentious employment Tuesday night.

Careful not to call it a "resignation," lest she forfeit months of severance pay, Posivach asked the City Council for what Mayor Richard Rober would later call a "mutual separation." Posivach, whose salary and benefits net her $135,000 a year, will likely earn a severance payout of about $90,000.

Council members have lambasted Posivach in recent months for working too often at home, hiding the clients of her private side business and traveling to remote conferences on the city's dime. Two council motions to terminate Posivach, who became city manager in June 2009, failed in November.

Posivach defended her time in office by saying she had originally wanted a brief but productive stint to help the city "over the hump."

"I had never come here and intended to spend a lengthy period of time," she said. "I am not a traditional city manager. … What I do is come in and fix things and leave.

Attempts to help the city, she said, were derailed by "extremely inappropriate" questions of how she worked. Her accomplishments — including helping obtain a permit for dredging, she said, and purchasing a new fire truck — were often overlooked.

"That needs to be the issue," she said. "Not where I am and what I'm doing."

Much of the council's criticism fell on Posivach's contract, the open-ended pact that lets her set her own hours. Member Terry Rowe called it an "abomination."

"I commend you. There are not too many people who can negotiate a contract of this magnitude, with this many perks," Rowe said. "Whoever you had write this, they deserved every penny you gave them."

Rowe also railed against the clause allowing her "reasonable compensatory time," saying her 219 accrued hours — earning her $14,307 — was absurd. Posivach responded by asking City Attorney Michael Brannigan the legal definition of "reasonable."

Even Vice Mayor Steven O'Neill, who characterized himself as one of Posivach's chief defenders, took issue with the contract he had signed off on in 2009.

"Shame on myself," he said. "Shame on myself, because I was a part of this contract."

Mayor Richard Rober and member Bill Colombo also expressed regret over approving the contract. But Rober said he felt the city had gotten its money's worth for Posivach.

"In late 2008, we were on our backs, upside down, like turtles that can't right themselves up. We had broken stuff everywhere. We had discord among our residents," Rober said. "I would challenge anybody in this room who says we haven't made serious accomplishments."

Posivach will stay in office until the end of February, when the interim job falls to police Chief Dave Brown. She offered to help interview new candidates for the city, and Rober said he would like the city "to be able to call on her from time to time."

But ending the work relationship won't be cheap. Finance manager Pam Zeigler said Posivach has accrued 630 hours of unused vacation time, 219 hours of comp time and, as her contract allows, three months of paid compensation — a final payout totaling $89,229.

For comparison, former city manager Richard Reade, who brought Posivach on as an assistant, left the city with a severance package of $44,335, Zeigler said. Former city manager Jerry Calhoun resigned in 2007, forfeiting his payout.

"Everybody is looking at this like I'm this person in desperation, and that I need to hang onto this job," Posivach said. "That's not the case."

Posivach resigned as the city manager of Tarpon Springs in 2008 under pressure from city commissioners, who accused her of abusing compensatory time. One commissioner said she had "poor people skills (and a) disconnect with the staff."

Though her contract stated she would have to surrender her severance pay if she resigned, Tarpon Springs commissioners voted to treat the termination as a "firing without cause." She earned about $87,000 for pension pay, three months' severance and 813 hours of unused vacation time.

On Tuesday, as the 7:30 p.m. meeting neared its end just before midnight, Rober turned to look Posivach in the eyes and gave a goodbye reminiscent of a breakup.

"Ms. Posivach, I think you're an extremely bright woman. I think you're an extremely bright manager. I think you've brought to Port Richey things we haven't had in the past," he said. "In my opinion, we both need to move on."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 869-6244 or

Port Richey and City Manager Posivach agree to mutual parting 01/26/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  2. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle
  3. Death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria's devastating passage across the island.

    Crew members assess electrical lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Friday in Puerto Rico. Mobile communications systems are being flown in but “it’s going to take a while.”
  4. N. Korea says strike against U.S. mainland is 'inevitable'


    North Korea's foreign minister warned Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland is "inevitable" because President Donald Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the belittling nickname "little rocketman."

  5. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack


    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.