Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Zephyrhills, city manager close to parting ways

ZEPHYRHILLS — The City Council will cut ties with City Manager Jim Drumm, who agreed to resign after nearly three years running the city.

During a meeting Wednesday night, the council voted 4-1 for a separation agreement with Drumm that would cost the city a little more than $54,000, with the actual amount yet to be figured.

Drumm's last day would be today, according to the agreement, but that is not yet settled as the council also voted to require the city manager to sign a release that he will not sue the city. Drumm said he would hold off officially resigning until he could have an attorney read the release and consider the council's offer.

The amount the city agreed to pay is far lower than the $89,000 Drumm said he was owed. City Attorney Joseph Poblick told the council the city was obligated by contract to pay around $4,700 in salary, $17,000 in unused vacation and sick time and 13 weeks' severance of $26,000. But a debate ensued about whether to pay health insurance and comp time Drumm also requested.

Council members agreed to pay Drumm around $4,100 for three months of insurance, but balked at paying him 368 hours in comp time.

Council member Kent Compton — who voted against the final agreement — said the council should consider Drumm's "tremendous accomplishments" in coming to a payout figure.

Compton said Drumm should be rewarded for taking the city from a $1 million reserve deficit to a $1.5 million surplus. He added the council should meet Drumm in the middle in his request.

But that idea hit resistance from other members. Lance Smith acknowledged the city manager's work on the budget, but was critical of his people skills. Smith and council member Ken Burgess started the wheels turning on Drumm's departure in March when they said they did not intend to approve renewing his contract.

"I do think he has done some good things, but being a strong manager and a good leader of people is not one of them," Smith said.

After a lengthy debate, the council voted to pay Drumm 40 hours of comp time — $2,353. Drumm said afterward that he had earned more, but he wants an amicable split and will consider the city's offer. He said he was long under the impression that the council was seeking to negotiate a new contract and was blindsided that two out of five council members had the ability to decide his fate.

"It was a real shock. It's been hard on my family," Drumm said.

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