The Port Richey city manager's come-as-you-please work schedule is about to get some deserved scrutiny. The Port Richey City Council has scheduled a special meeting next week to discuss the generous contract of its city manager, Ellen Posivach. Even her staunchest supporter, Mayor Richard Rober, acknowledged Wednesday the contract is worthy of some negotiation. Indeed.
Though the city has moved forward under Posivach's administration — most notably with a realistic rate schedule for utilities and attempts to modernize the water line infrastructure — it also has been unable to escape the carping so common in Port Richey. For instance, the proposed annexation of the state preserve looked like nothing more than a greedy grab for utility customers.
But this time, Posivach herself is the subject of the grumbling because the lights too frequently are turned off at her City Hall office. The I-can-be-at-work-anywhere latitude of her contract is counterproductive in a tiny city of 3,000 residents, some of whom frequently want nothing more than some face time with their city manager.
The missing-in-action work schedule also limits hands-on management of department heads. Let's face it, some of those public officials have demonstrated dubious judgement, like the 2009 recorded conversation between police Chief David Brown and utilities director Pat Stewart in which Brown said "maybe somebody needs to swing a 2 by 4'' at then council member Phil Abts. More important than department heads with too much idle time are the accusations — that have not been investigated publicly — from the former information technology vendor alleging purchasing improprieties.
Posivach receives a $135,000 salary and benefits package, the ability to travel on the city's dime for professional development, compensatory time and nine weeks of leave annually in exchange for 2,080 hours of work a year. She can work when and where she sees fit and also has a side consulting business, the clients of which she declines to identify. In her less than two years as city manager, the comp time pool has allowed her to bank her leave and accrue $33,000 worth of time off for which she will be compensated upon her departure.
A review of her time sheets by Times staff writer Drew Harwell showed Posivach logging work hours on the fictional day of Feb. 30 and another instance of working more than 25 hours in a single day. That is a neat trick even for the most productive of employees.
It is a rich remuneration package for such a small city. If Posivach can juggle six job titles while traveling at public expense, certainly she should be able to find time for more frequent trips to City Hall.