LIVE OAK — With the long-awaited city manager evaluation finally completed, the Live Oak City Council approved a raise for Ron Williams at its May 14 meeting.
Based on the collective scores from Williams’ evaluation, the council approved a 1.5 percent increase by a 4-1 vote with Mark Stewart dissenting.
Councilman David Burch then recommended an additional 4 percent raise for Williams, which he said was based on data gathered from similar cities from the Florida League of Cities. Burch said similar cities had provided an average of 5.5 percent raises to their managers the past three years.
“Our employees are assets we need to cultivate and be protected,” Burch said. “It’s important for us to reiterate our backing and support of the city manager.
“He’s our CEO. He runs the place and this board needs to back him in his endeavors.”
That recommendation, though, failed from lack of a second.
After some ensuing discussion over how to proceed with a potential negotiation with Williams, which his contract allows for, the council eventually tabled the issue until its next meeting.
Burch, who also had offered a 3.5 percent additional increase, said Williams would perhaps like to take a look at some numbers and bring them back to the board.
Williams said he would also be open to taking additional time off like he did in lieu of a raise last year or even some additional funding to a retirement plan.
“Obviously I have some thoughts on where the number should go,” Williams said. “I’m happy to negotiate something very different if that’s the will of the council.”
City Attorney Fred Koberlein reminded the board several times during the discussion that while councilors could have individual discussions with Williams, ultimately no one member of the council could be designated as a negotiator. Rather, those discussions would have to be brought back before the entire council in a public meeting.
The raise given Williams is his first since coming aboard as Live Oak’s city manager in 2016. It was also the first evaluation he was given, although his contract calls for one to be conducted annually.
The council approved giving Williams a 1.5 percent raise in October, which sparked an ongoing saga into the lack of a formal evaluation and the need for one in order for a merit raise to be granted.
After months of discussion on the topic, the council approved the evaluation form and process at its March meeting, which was to utilize the city’s existing managerial employees evaluation form. According to that form, a score of 42-55 (each of the 11 areas can be awarded 1-5 points) would net a 1.5 percent increase, a 34-41 score would be a 1 percent increase, a score of 16-33 would equal a 0.5 percent increase and a score below 16 would not garner an increase.
Williams received a composite 45.2 score from the five council members’ individual evaluations, ranging from a high of 55 from Bennie Thomas and a low of 33 from Stewart.
Mayor Frank Davis recognized Capt. Keith Davis and Lt. Jason Rountree with the Live Oak Police Department at the meeting in honor of National Police Week.
“Let’s thank them for the great work that they’re doing,” Mayor Davis said, adding the officers with the LOPD do more than just fight crime, but also are very involved in the community.
Davis also told the council he was in the process of planning a forum for June to discuss high-speed internet and its availability in the area.
The date has not yet been set for the forum, but Davis said providers would be at the forum to discuss the issue with community members.
“He really has a real positive concept,” Williams said. “The issue doesn’t have jurisdictional (boundaries), it really has an effect across the board. There is a real need to address is in a broad sense.
“I think it would benefit the entire community.”