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Council gives city manager 2 percent raise – no extension; Rated ‘fully satisfactory’

By Staff | Apr 1, 2008

Despite asking the City Council not to give him a salary increase, Cape Coral City Manager Terry Stewart received a 2 percent raise after the body voted 6-2 to give him a “fully satisfactory” rating at Monday’s meeting.

Stewart did not, however, get the one-year contract extension he asked for as the council decided to hold off on that decision until the fall.

Many newer members of council said they were unable to make a decision on the extension because of their short terms on the dais. Five of the eight took their seats in November.

“I don’t think it’s long enough to make that choice,” said Councilmember Jim Burch.

After some wrangling, the council decided to give Stewart the fully satisfactory rating after compiling the eight evaluations.

Councilmembers Eric Grill and Pete Brandt rated the city manager as “less than satisfactory,” while Councilmember Dolores Bertolini gave him an “excellent” rating. The rest of the council gave Stewart the “fully satisfactory” rating.

“I never took into consideration on a daily basis the amount of complaints he gets and the amount of things he has to deal with,” said Councilmember Tim Day, who gave Stewart unsatisfactory ratings in the two previous years. “I say give him the 2 percent and lets reopen the contract issue in September.”

In a memo several weeks ago, the city manager declined his raise because of the budget crunch. He asked the council for the opportunity to follow through with his commitment, but Mayor Eric Feichthaler would not hear of it.

“Mr. Stewart has gotten the smallest raise of anyone in the city,” he said, saying it was an issue of fairness that the city manager get a raise. “I believe it is his to decide what he does with us.”

Stewart told the council that he is unhappy not just with the unsatisfactory reviews, but also those who said he is doing his job as expected.

“I’m not even comfortable with a satisfactory,” he said. “You wouldn’t want me if I was the type of person that was OK with that kind of rating.”

Stewart also pointed out the unique challenges of city staff, especially when the elected officials are divided among themselves about policy.

Nevertheless, he contended that he and staff have gone to the limit to answer every concern that members on the dais have raised.

“There’s not one thing that this council has asked us to do since this council was seated that we have not done,” he said. “We can’t answer to just one of you. We have to answer to all of you.”