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Safety Harbor manager earns high, low marks

There is little gray area in City Manager Pamela Brangaccio's job evaluation: City commissioners either love her performance or hate it.

After more than a month's delay, commissioners finally completed Brangaccio's performance appraisal. Vice Mayor Pamela Corbino, who has been critical of Brangaccio in recent months, was the last commissioner to complete the evaluation, turning hers in Thursday. Commissioners will discuss whether to give Brangaccio a merit raise at Monday's meeting.

Brangaccio became city manager in 1991 after John Downes resigned rather than be fired by the commission. She received a 5 percent merit increase last April, bringing her salary to more than $65,000.

All city employees are evaluated on a numerical scale, with the highest score being 120. The score determines the size of the raise, from zero to 6 percent.

Brangaccio received praise for her technical skills and, with the exception of the library, for achieving commission goals. She most often was criticized for interpersonal and communication skills.

Corbino and Commissioner Linda Adkins were most critical of Brangaccio and gave her the lowest marks _ a 62 from Corbino and a 60 from Adkins. Both marks would put Brangaccio at a 3 percent increase. As in last year's evaluation, Brangaccio's highest score came from Commissioner Kathleen Bambery, whose marks put the city manager in the 5 percent range.

Commissioner Dan Pohto, from whom the city manager received her lowest marks last year, said that Brangaccio continues to meet performance goals and that "her initiative and desire to do a good job stands out as an attribute." He recommended giving her a 5 percent raise, although the numerical score was at a lower level.

"Pam does an excellent job of framing issues for commission deliberation," Mayor Kent Runnells said. "The materials provided by staff tend to be complete and are always well organized and easily digested."

But Corbino used words like "secretive" and "deceptive" about Brangaccio. Adkins, who said the city manager was rude and disrespectful at times, called her management style clandestine.

"Much more evident is the attitude of disrespect that I have observed toward your employer, the City Commission," Adkins' report said. "The city manager works for the commission and regardless of how small, foolish or tedious a directive may seem, it is to be done. . . . Your interactive skills come across as insensitive, dogmatic and stubborn."

Corbino indicated that her opinions of Brangaccio were echoed by some residents. Corbino said employee morale is at an all-time low.

"Residents of this community who have had contact with the city manager have also expressed their anger at the attitude she portrays to them. I, too, have been treated rudely by Mrs. Brangaccio at various times," Corbino said.

Brangaccio said she is not intentionally rude to residents or commissioners. Further, Brangaccio said that she knows that employee morale is low in some areas, and that it stems from some departmental changes, which she said employees might perceive as "frightening."

"I don't recognize (being rude), but I don't think you see those kinds of things in yourself," she said. "I know that I can be demanding in asking for the truth, and I ask people to be truthful when they make comments at the podium" at commission meetings.

Corbino also has been critical of the evaluation process for the city manager, saying that more points should be given to judging management skills and fewer points for the goals and objectives portion. She wanted to discuss it at the Feb. 7 commission meeting, but failed to get a required consensus among commissioners.

At that meeting, Bambery accused Corbino of being part of a "whisper campaign" with commission candidates Fran Barnhisel and Jill Cincotta to fire Brangaccio. Corbino, Barnhisel and Cincotta vehemently denied the accusation.

In a March 1 memo to Brangaccio, Corbino said she should have placed the item on the agenda, rather than tell Corbino that she needed consensus. Further, Corbino said Brangaccio shouldn't be considered for a salary increase until April, the anniversary of Brangaccio's last raise.

Overall, Brangaccio said she received a lot of positive feedback in individual evaluation sessions with some commissioners. She said she did not know how to respond to some of the criticism.

"It's funny _ I never had any problems with interpersonal skills until I came to Safety Harbor. I've always enjoyed good relationships with the people I've worked for and with," she said. "Some of what I've read (about myself), I don't know that person. I know that I'm a good city manager and that I've accomplished a lot."