The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved a new employment agreement with Village Manager Ray Liggins on Thursday, May 16, granting the manager a five-year extension of his current village service.
The agenda also included the annual review, evaluation and merit pay determination for Liggins, and the discussion began with individual critiques from the council.
Vice Mayor Jan Rodusky was very supportive of the work Liggins has done since taking over as manager in 2010. He previously served as the village engineer.
“I think our village manager does an excellent job,” Rodusky said. “When we look at the criteria for which we are to evaluate, like employee relations, image, long-range planning, financial management, communications and capital projects, I think he is achieving in all areas. We are celebrating 20 years of him as an employee, and that, to me, speaks volumes.”
Councilman Jeff Hmara spoke next, also praising Liggins.
“Not only do I appreciate the quality of the work that the village manager does, but it is also appreciated in the county among peers of his, and also officials who I have had the opportunity to talk to,” Hmara said. “We are fortunate to have him here. One of the things that I think is an interesting observation is with his background, you would expect a very structured, inside-the-box kind of a thinker. But, quite frankly, I see an individual who can get out of the box. He actually brought us the strategic planning activity, and that, of course, encourages all of us to look down the road.”
Both Councilman Richard Valuntas and Councilwoman Selena Samios agreed that Liggins does an excellent job.
“I also look at longevity in the job,” Samios said. “I think it is a testament to leadership but also to the working environment. Even though there are times I may disagree with you, I find you fair. You and the staff make it easier for me, being prepared, making sure I understand everything. You have helped council members with their personal projects. You go above and beyond.”
Mayor Fred Pinto was the final council member to comment.
“I think Ray is an outstanding manager for the village,” he said. “Ray, as our manager, has helped us get to where we are.”
Several modifications from Liggins’ current employment agreement were proposed and approved. One was that the contract is now a five-year term and not a three-year term, extending his contract out to 2024. Traditionally, the council has used a three-year term. Liggins asked to have a five-year term instead.
According to Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton, the council still has the opportunity to change direction.
“This does nothing to change the council’s ability to terminate the manager,” she said. “It’s just about how often we would have to renegotiate the contract from scratch. Ray thought that would fit better into his future planning.”
The salary Liggins collects was slated to remain in line with his previous contract.
“The base salary is going to stay the same as his current pay,” Ashton continued. “He will still continue to get the increases if these are offered to other employees in the village.”
Pinto, however, interrupted to say that Liggins’ salary is under the average of other village managers. In order to bring his salary to the 50 percent average of his peers, he proposed asking the council to give an additional 5 percent to the manager’s base pay starting now and continuing for the five-year term.
In addition to a five-year contract, an assessment for the yearly merit review will allow the council to offer Liggins an additional bonus for his services every year. At that time, there will be a determination for merit pay and how much will be offered, anywhere from zero to five percent annually. The changes were approved and made part of the negotiated contract.
In other business:
• It was a packed house at the Village Meeting Hall when 10 scholarships of $1,000 each were awarded to local high school seniors. Their families gathered to watch the award ceremony. The recipients were Anthony Benedict, Starr Bien-Aime, Madeleine Crean, Mya Gardner, Kate Kollar-Dye, Marco Peric, John-Mark Andrew Phillips, Nichole Taylor, Stefani Vassalotti and Maura Catherine Wilson.
• The council presented a 20-year service award to Todd Wax. Wax has served the village since he was hired in 1999, when he first served as village electrician in public works. Now a plan review analyst, Wax received his award surrounded by council members.