New contract for city manager

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

New contract for city manager:

Four years and substantial goals

The City Commission approved a new four-year contract for Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales (above) that includes a slight raise in pay, a bonus for his performance during the last fiscal year, and a substantial list of goals and objectives. As City Manager, Morales essentially acts as the City's CEO.
Commissioner Ricky Arriola, chair of the Finance Committee who negotiated the agreement, briefed his colleagues on the terms:
  1. Up to four years with annual reviews based on the goals and objectives submitted by Commissioners and Morales
  2. An increase in base pay to $305,736.60 from $291,011.50
  3. A $1,000 increase in his 457 Plan (for a total contribution of $25,000) in addition to an IRA account in the maximum amount of $7,000
  4. Car allowance adjustment to $800 monthly
  5. Long-term care insurance
  6. Additional 3 weeks of annual vacation (for a total of 6 weeks)
  7. Continuation of health insurance for a period of one year following termination or expiration of the contract
Arriola also suggested a bonus of up to 10% of Morales’ base salary in the previous year, approximately $29,000.
In addition, Arriola said, for the first time, the contract includes specific goals and objectives to be reviewed in Morales’ annual performance evaluations.
The list includes 17 specific – and substantial – items including completion of the former Par 3 park (within four years), 600 Alton park (Phase 1 completion within 30 months of executed development agreement), completion of North Beach Oceanside Park (within four years), completion of the Beachwalk (within three years), completion of the Convention Center Hotel (by Art Basel 2022), completion of the Lincoln Road renovation (within 3 to 3.5 years after Notice to Proceed), and removing the “pause” on the City’s sea level resiliency program with projects fully underway in South, Mid, and North Beach (beginning immediately upon completion of the analysis taking place now by outside contractor, the “Jacobs’ analysis.”).
Morales’ performance will also be judged by 13 categories of other deliverables that include improving quality of life enhancements and public engagement within the City’s resiliency program; improving regional transportation solutions; making “significant progress” on neighborhood revitalization and master plans for Washington Avenue, 41st Street, and North Beach; improving the “resident appeal, public safety perceptions and business vibrancy” of Ocean Drive; addressing the causes of the City’s reputation of being “hard to do business with”; and improving the City’s long term fiscal health.
Arriola noted the contract is “at will” and can be terminated with or without cause. 
Regarding the four year length of the contract, Arriola said, “I think it’s also important that we give a sufficient amount of time to Jimmy and his team to complete things, the tasks that we’ve charged him with. A lot of these goals are going to take multiple years to conclude and he needs peace of mind and his direct reports need the assurance that their leader’s going to be with us for a sufficiently long period of time in order to hit the goals that we’ve outlined and are expecting from them.”
Commissioner Michael Góngora who expressed concerns about the process around Morales’ review this year, again voiced his objections to the process. “I always have to be the Grinch on these items,” he said. “Number one, I want to say I support Jimmy and I look forward to a continued relationship with him… My concerns have been more about the process on this matter than the actual substance of what we’re doing.” He objected to the review being conducted at a Committee of the Whole meeting “where very few people were there.” 
“I personally believe a four year term is too long,” he added. “It’s double the term that the mayor gets elected to. It’s an entire commission term and, in my experience, it’s an unusually long time for a contract.” 
Though other Commissioners had reviewed the contract in advance, Góngora said he was not aware it was on the agenda because it was “added at the last minute” and, therefore, he did not have the chance to understand the financial terms. The item was added to the agenda on Monday prior to Wednesday’s meeting for which Morales apologized saying that he and Arriola had not been able to get together until the end of last week to hammer out details.
Góngora asked for a total value of the package compared to the previous year. While waiting for the number to be calculated, Commissioners took turns praising Morales as they did at his performance review

Morales who was born and raised in Miami Beach and is a Beach High grad, said, “I look forward to hopefully leave a tremendous legacy” for his children and grandchildren. 
Over the past six years, he said, his team has completed nearly a billion dollars in projects. With the GO Bond, Convention Center Hotel, and the neighborhood improvement projects coming up, there will be another billion dollars of projects to be completed in the near future. “We’re doing good work,” he said complementing his team, the Commission, and community.  
Mayor Dan Gelber who has known Morales for nearly 45 years said, “He’s never disappointed me and he’s never disappointed his community. When I decided to run for mayor I would not have run if I thought Jimmy Morales wasn’t going to be our manager. To me, he is the quintessential professional… He is not somebody who is afraid of a tough decision and he is not afraid of a tough moment and in a city like ours which is under the microscope, which gets 14 million visitors a year, which handles a variety of really challenging issues, and believes it’s supposed to set a standard for other cities to follow, having a manager like Jimmy is not good, it’s critical.”
When the value of the new package was calculated, $365,000 versus the prior year’s $322,000, Commissioners were ready to vote.
Góngora reiterated his position. “I want to be very clear before we vote… I think you do a good job,” he said to Morales. “I think you are an honest, good, ethical man but I’m not going to be supporting a four-year contract” and, again, objected to the process.
The final vote was 6 to 1 on the contract, however, the Commission unanimously supported the 10% bonus on Morales' 2017-2018 base salary or $29,000.
The agreement can be found here.


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