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St. Pete Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield will ask for a two-year contract extension

ST. PETE BEACH — City Manager Mike Bonfield will ask the City Commission on Tuesday to renew his contract for another two years.

His present contract provides for an extension of up to four years, but Bonfield is only asking for another two years.

With a new commission in place and a comfortable majority that has publicly supported his leadership, Bonfield is likely to be retained. But had he asked for a contract renewal just a few months ago, the vote might have been close.

The discussion among his bosses about salary and contract is likely to be much more civil than when two of Bonfield's sharpest critics — former commissioners Linda Chaney and Harry Metz — were on the commission.

Chaney and Metz were members of Citizens for Responsible Growth, a group that frequently attacked Bonfield for what they perceived as his support for developers and hotel interests.

Replacing them are newly elected commissioners, Beverly Garnett, a member of pro-development Save Our Little Village, and political newcomer Jim Parent.

Both indicated their support for Bonfield last month when they voted to approve a $2,308.46 one-time, cost-of-living raise — the first raise he had received since January 2007.

Before that action, Garnett strongly praised Bonfield.

"Mike has been persecuted the last few years and has not been treated fairly," she said. "He has performed under fire and shown grace."

Mayor Michael Finnerty says he still supports Bonfield, even through he voted against giving the city manager a small cost-of-living raise last month.

Vice Mayor Al Halpern, a SOLV supporter, also supports Bonfield.

Finnerty and Halpern gave Bonfield high performance ratings in February — 4.46 and 4.67 out of a possible 5, respectively — but split later on giving Bonfield a raise.

Commissioner Christopher Leonard, who joined Finnerty in opposing Bonfield's recent raise, is more nuanced in his support of Bonfield's performance.

Leonard gave the city manager high performance review marks for recruiting and retaining a "very competent and skilled staff," his "willingness" to meet with him and district residents to resolve problems, and balancing the city's budget without raising property taxes.

Leonard criticized him, however, for a negative attitude toward commission or citizen suggestions.

Before his appointment as St. Pete Beach city manager in 2002, Bonfield was city manager in Madeira Beach and worked in Gulfport as a recreation supervisor, parks and recreation director, and as director of community services.

The commission is under no pressure to renew Bonfield's contract right away, because it doesn't actually expire until Jan. 27, 2010. He's not asking for any other terms to be changed or for a salary increase, which would be considered as part of the city's budget deliberations later this summer.

St. Pete Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield will ask for a two-year contract extension 05/23/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 23, 2009 4:31am]
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