Council decides it will not pay travel expenses for applicants
At least one city manager applicant and his family was caught by surprise Friday when Cape City Council decided the city would not pay for travel expenses for out-of-state candidates.
The wife of one of the six city manager finalists said council’s decision has forced her husband to pull out of the race.
Valorie Oliver, wife of applicant Charles R. Oliver, said that it was standard practice for employers to cover travel expenses for high profile jobs like city or county managers.
“We’re not accustomed to a council with such an important position as city manager making these kind of decisions,” she said. “He’s never been asked to pay own his own travel expenses.”
City council decided not to pay for travel expenses for the two candidates traveling from outside of Florida during a special meeting Friday afternoon.
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said an email sent from Human Resources citing teleconference as a interview option should be adhered to, and those who decide to pay their own way would indicate a greater interest in the job.
“I consider it a motivator to see who will show up,” Chulakes-Leetz said.
Councilmember Marty McClain cited Thursday night’s labor negotiator interviews as the reason to meet with all candidates face to face.
He said an interviewee would simply not have the same kind of presence online as they would in person.
“This whole process is being rushed along faster than I’m comfortable with anyway … I want to meet the candidates,” McClain said.
Charles Oliver was most recently city manager of Surprise, Arizona, a city of 118,000 citizens and 850 full-time employees with a budget of approximately $300 million, according to his resume.
Oliver was also a former city manager in Peoria, Illinois, and Greenville, South Carolina.
He also served as an assistant to the county administrator here in Lee, working on projects as diverse as Hammond Stadium and the Mid-point Bridge.
The Olivers still have family in Cape Coral, where they previously lived for more than a decade.
Valorie Oliver said she was a long- time member of Christ Lutheran Church on Del Prado.
Having such close ties to the community, she said it’s disappointing the council chose the route they did.
She said it was simply a disadvantage to interview via teleconference.
“It is with great sadness because we love the community. We have family there,” she said, adding, “but that’s not the way the game is played.”
The other out-of-state candidate, Peter G. Sands, said he is still coming for the interview.
Having already built a home in Cape Coral, Sands said he and his wife plan on becoming members of the community whatever the final decision on the position might be.
“It does not effect my decision. We already have planned move to Cape Coral,” Sands said. “I’m glad to be part of the community regardless of the decision.”