The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors accepted the notice of four-month District Manager John “Woody” Wodraska on Wednesday and agreed to put out a request for proposals for a new manager after his firm, Special District Services (SDS), asked for a raise from $10,000 to $15,000 a month.
Jupiter Mayor Todd Wodraska, the president of Special District Services and the son of the current manager, said that the item was on the board agenda a month ago but got postponed due to the hurricane.
Woody Wodraska, was the longtime CEO of the South Florida Water Management District before retiring. He arrived at ITID in July as the interim manager. He and the board had discussed a year’s contract through Oct. 1, 2018.
“I guess I got reflective of what I really wanted to be doing, and I have come to the conclusion this is not what I see myself doing in the future,” the elder Wodraska said. “I hope to get more involved in the water resource side of things, so I’d be happy to work out a transition. I don’t see myself making a commitment for a whole year of continuing to work as the district manager at Indian Trail.”
Supervisor Gary Dunkley said he appreciated the work Wodraska had done in the past four months, which included completing the district budget on time and hiring two department heads.
“I’m glad that you’re truthful that this is not what you really want,” Dunkley said. “Initially, when we went out to get you guys, it was only temporary.”
Todd Wodraska said his father’s decision was one that he made that day before the meeting.
The younger Wodraska explained that when he stood before the board in late June, it was on the heels of the supervisors having fired ITID’s manager and finance director. A quick agreement was put together to stabilize the district, and he had said at the time that the contract amount was not compensating SDS fairly.
“Relative to what Woody provided you all, I would stand by that,” he said, comparing the cost of services provided by SDS to the salary and services provided by the fired manager.
“I’m here to tell you that we have other services at our disposal between myself and my business partner… that can help you,” he said. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in four months, on almost an emergency basis.”
He said the current contract provides for a 60-day notice for termination. “We’re more than happy beginning the process tomorrow looking for a full-time manager and us as a management company. I do this all the time,” he said, explaining that his company engages in the practice regularly, and that his own Town of Jupiter is currently in the process of hiring a new manager. “If you don’t want us to be involved in the process, just let me know.”
Todd Wodraska said his father would be available through November and maybe into December, and that SDS could continue longer than that.
Supervisor Betty Argue said the basis of hiring SDS was that Woody Wodraska would be the manager, and issues had come up regarding hours of work and vacation time that they had not contemplated in the contract.
“While I appreciate that we have 60 days into the contract, and I’d like to honor that, I understand Woody would like to go on vacation, but I don’t think the district should have to pay for that,” Argue said. “If that’s the case, then I think that we can perhaps come to an agreement that this will be the termination date and our contract’s over.”
Argue added that she was not sure what SDS’s role would be in finding a new manager.
“I sort of think that it’s the responsibility of the board to do that, and I would like the process to be somewhat independent,” she said.
Supervisor Carol Jacobs said the district has been in chaos recently.
“Things aren’t getting done, and policies are being invoked left and right,” she said. “I would motion that we terminate the contract effective immediately and go out for our own RFQ [request for qualifications].”
Supervisor Ralph Bair said he had originally favored a six-month contract rather than a year because he anticipated that the board would be looking for a replacement all along. “I don’t have any problem going for one more month, but I see our contract says 60 days, so we’re probably going to have to honor that or pay it out,” Bair said. “It just makes sense to let Woody go on at least until late November and figure out what we’re going to do, and start the process as soon as we can.”
Bair said he would rather ask legal staff to start the process, rather than have SDS assist, and ITID President Jennifer Hager agreed.
“I appreciate what you do and your expertise, and you’ve always been easy to work with,” Hager said. “I’m not surprised, and I was expecting it because it was on a temporary basis.”
A motion was made to give SDS 60 days’ notice without cause, which carried 5-0.
Argue added that she felt SDS had done a commendable job.
“I don’t want anybody to feel bad or be put on the spot, because I think that SDS came in, and you really did do an excellent job under the circumstances,” she said. “It was last-minute. You gave up everything you were doing and you came in here, I get it, and I really appreciate that.”
Dunkley made a motion to advertise a request for qualifications, which carried 5-0.