Commission Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the Special Commission Meeting - February 18, 2021, 4 p.m.

The special meeting of the Lady Lake Town Commission was held in the Commission Chambers at Lady Lake Town Hall, 409 Fennell Blvd., Lady Lake, Florida with Mayor Ruth Kussard presiding. The meeting convened at 4 p.m.

A. Call to Order

Mayor Ruth Kussard

B. Roll Call

Commissioner (Ward) Present
Kussard (One) YES
Holden (Two) YES
Vincent (Three) YES
Hannan (Four) YES
Rietz (Five) YES

STAFF PRESENT: Thad Carroll, Interim Town Manager; and Nancy Slaton, Interim Town Clerk; Derek Schroth, Town Attorney; Mike Burske, Parks and Recreation Director; John Pearl, I.T. Director; Julia Harris, Assistant to the Town Manager (via Teams)

Others present: Colin Baenziger of Colin Baenziger & Associates (via Teams)

D. New Business

1. Discussion Concerning Moving Forward with the Hiring Process for the Town Manager Position

Mayor Kussard began the discussion by stating she has been an advocate of giving Thad Carroll the opportunity to be Town Manager. She requested that the Commissioners grant him the courtesy of interviewing him separately. She stated he has done an excellent job as Interim and has the respect of developers and others. If the other Commissioners do not agree, she stated she would like to offer the position to Mr. Marchant, who received the most votes after Mr. Campbell, with the following changes to the terms:

  • Relocation of their residence within 60 days of the offer, within 20 miles of the Town
  • Adherence to the Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. work schedule
  • Vacation and sick time, health insurance, and deferred compensation benefits to be the same as other Town employees pursuant to the Town’s personnel policy
  • If employer terminates employee after employee’s first 90 days of employment, employer would pay employee the base salary for a period of two months from date of termination, or make a lump sum cash payment equal to two month’s base salary, and employer would pay health insurance for employee and spouse for two months from date of termination provided there are no other benefits accrued following the effective date of termination.
  • Annual salary of $120,000, although it could be negotiable, as other City Manager salaries in the area range from $140,130 to $257,195.
  • Provision of a Town vehicle or vehicle allowance is negotiable. Monthly car allowances from surrounding municipalities range from $300 to $630 per month.

Mayor Kussard stated she came up with these terms as a result of research she completed prior to the meeting. She then asked the other Commissioners for their input.

Commissioner Hannan commented that he is not as quick as he once was, however, it is his opinion that the interview process they went through a couple of weeks ago could have been much better if they were not driven by time constraints. He stated if they do make an offer, the Commissioners should be prepared to offer detailed terms and allow the candidate to make a counter-offer once, or at most twice. He stated they could do negotiations or another interview via a Zoom call with the Commissioners and the Town Attorney present.

Commissioner Holden stated that he means no offense to Mr. Carroll, but he is not in favor of any more Kollgaard-type deals. He stated he would like to proceed with an offer to one of the candidates with the same terms as offered to Mr. Campbell.

Mayor Kussard asked Commissioner Holden if he had some specific reason for his comments about how the Town is being run. She stated the Town looks beautiful and the employees are doing a wonderful job.

Commissioner Holden named some instances where he completed a walk-through and found someone sleeping on the job and someone leaving the workplace early and not returning. He stated the community building renovations are still not completed.

Mayor Kussard responded that supplies for the renovations may have been delayed due to Covid. She stated that the instance of him finding someone sleeping on the job may have been because they were on their break; they do not know.

Commissioner Rietz stated he feels the Commission should be choosing someone from the five candidates selected from the list presented by the search firm.

Commissioner Vincent stated he feels the Mayor is siding with employees too much and that she may need to step aside at times. He stated the Commission should pick a candidate from outside; new blood. He stated there are things going on here that the Mayor is not aware of.

Commissioner Hannan asked that the Commissioners get on with the business at hand.

Mayor Kussard commented that she does not need a personal attack from anyone on this Commission.

Commissioner Hannan asked whether the Commissioners were in favor of doing a face to face interview via Zoom with the candidate they choose.

Mr. Colin Baenziger of the search firm suggested that the Commission take a poll to see if they agree on their next choice of candidate to offer the position too.

After discussion, the Commission agreed their choice would be between Mr. Marchant and Mr. Lawrence.

Town Attorney Derek Schroth asked Mr. Baenziger if he had talked with any of the applicants since the last meeting to see if they are still interested.

Mr. Baenziger stated that Mr. Marchant and Mr. Lawrence both remain interested. He stated Mr. Lawrence is willing to negotiate the terms offered to Mr. Campbell, as is  Mr. Marchant, although Mr. Marchant stated he would like the 20 weeks’ severance as allowed by law in Florida.

Mayor Kussard read that Mr. Lawrence has an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and has completed 90 credits toward a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern Maine. Mr. Marchant has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, and a Master’s Degree In Public Administration from Northern Illinois.

The Commissioners voted on their choice of candidate to make an offer to as follows: Commissioner Hannan for Mr.  Marchant; Commissioner Holden for Mr. Lawrence; Commissioner Rietz for Mr. Lawrence; Commissioner Vincent for Mr. Lawrence; and Mayor Kussard for Mr. Marchant.

Mr. Schroth asked if the Commissioners want to make an offer to Mr. Lawrence or if they want to do another one on one interview. He asked for a vote.

Commissioner Hannan stated he would like to do another interview, as did Mayor Kussard. Commissioners Holden, Rietz, and Vincent were not in favor of interviewing again.

Mr. Schroth asked Mr. Baenziger if he wanted to present the same offer to Mr.  Lawrence as was presented to Mr. Campbell.

Mr. Baenziger stated it might be best if it came from Mr. Schroth.

Mr. Schroth agreed that he would make an offer of employment to Mr. Lawrence. He stated another special meeting could be scheduled if further terms need to be negotiated.

D Adjourn

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:23 p.m.

s/ Nancy Slaton, Interim Town Clerk

s/ Ruth Kussard, Mayor

Minutes transcribed by Nancy Slaton, Deputy Town Clerk