ST. PETE BEACH —- City Manager Mike Bonfield got a raise Tuesday, his first merit increase since 2007.
The 2 percent hike wasn't a lot, but he now will be making $121,912.96 a year.
"I have enjoyed my time here," said Bonfield, who has served as the city's manager for 10 years. "It has been interesting, and a great learning experience."
Bonfield previously was city manager in Madeira Beach, where he started in 1999 at $60,000. His salary jumped to $89,000 in 2002 when he was hired by St. Pete Beach. He has received cost-of-living increases but no merit raise since 2007. He did get a one-time $2,308.46 cost-of-living bonus in 2009 that did not change his base salary.
"You have not received a merit increase for five years,'' Commissioner Jim Parent said Tuesday. "That qualifies as a while."
Bonfield's pay hike received the unanimous support of the commission.
Parent said Bonfield's approach to running the city was "very Zen" and "level-headed."
Newly re-elected Commissioner Marvin Shavlan was most effusive with his praise.
"It is very impressive in this particular city with the kind of politics that goes on here that he has made it this far. To me, it is truly incredible," Shavlan said.
"Mike has done a tremendous job," Commissioner Bev Garnett said. "I have seen some of the pop shots that have been thrown at him and he stood there and took them with grace."
Garnett also drew laughter when she asked Bonfield if he wanted former Commissioner Harry Metz to comment on the proposed salary hike. Metz has been a longtime critic of Bonfield's and often calls for him to be fired.
Bonfield often became a target for the city's feuding factions during his tenure.
Commissioner Al Halpern, who will be fighting to keep his seat in a runoff election in March, also supported Bonfield's raise.
"Mike has done a great job in the city," Halpern said.
Halpern was one of the most critical of all the commissioners, however, in evaluating Bonfield's performance over the past year.
"It seems that various code claims are handled differently than others," Halpern wrote on his evaluation of Bonfield. "It gives the appearance of favoritism of certain individuals. This should be stopped if indeed it does exist."
Shavlan gave Bonfield 5 out of 5 ratings in almost all evaluation categories, critiquing him only for what Shavlan says is a too-informal dress code in the city.
Mayor Steve McFarlin called on Bonfield to address the "West Corey situation," where deteriorating motels and buildings have contributed to crime and other problems.
The entire commission cited the need to hire a new community services director to help guide redevelopment.
"This position holds the key to our city's success as we … move our city toward its future," Garnett said.