The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council on Tuesday, Feb. 4 approved a three-year contract renewal for Town Manager Jamie Titcomb, along with a one-year option for another year.
The contract is unchanged from his first-year contract, except for the time period. Titcomb is wrapping up his first year on the job.
“The only thing that changes between his current agreement and this agreement, or the proposed changes, is some legal clarification, because we don’t want to have the same kind of issues that we have had in other agreements,” Town Attorney Brian Shutt said. “All we’ve done is change it to a three-year initial term with a one-year renewal.”
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia welcomed a three-year extension for Titcomb after working with him over the past year. She had a difficult relationship with Bill Underwood, the previous town manager.
“I sat on the last council, and you guys all know what happened,” she said. “We ended up with Mr. Titcomb. I think you’ve done a great job. I think he has shown himself to be a person who easily resolves conflict, and he wants to resolve conflict. I don’t think he has brought any drama into our town. I’m really happy to have him, and I want to change it to 50 years. I think three years is absolutely acceptable. This year has flown by. He represents us in Tallahassee and the League of Cities. He goes to all these functions. It was very prideful to go to Tallahassee with Jamie Titcomb.”
Mayor Robert Shorr pointed out a contract timeline correction regarding evaluations.
“It says evaluations will be performed annually before March 31, and I think that should be changed to Dec. 31, because when you look at the one-year extension option, it says he’d be reviewed for one year provided he’s had satisfactory performances, and it must be done by the first of January,” Shorr said.
Councilwoman Laura Danowski, a former Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District supervisor, provided a copy of the evaluation form that the LGWCD board used with former District Administrator Steve Yohe for consideration as a template for Titcomb’s evaluation.
“It was pretty simple, pretty straightforward,” Danowski said.
Councilman Dave DeMarois questioned a clause in the contract that referred to a supermajority of the council to terminate Titcomb without cause.
“I know that our charter is being reviewed,” DeMarois said. “Let’s say next year the charter is changed and takes it down to just a majority. This contract, because it’s a three-year contract, would it still require a supermajority?”
Shutt said the wording of the contract would still stand unless the wording were changed.
Maniglia said she would not agree to that kind of change.
Shorr asked if the charter could be referenced so that it could reflect whatever changes there are in the charter.
DeMarois said that clause was locked in with the previous manager.
Maniglia said she understood the concern, but Titcomb’s contract is not the same situation.
Danowski said she would prefer not to reference the charter in Titcomb’s contract.
DeMarois said a similar situation might come up with the city attorney’s contract, but Shutt said there is no reference to a supermajority in his contract.
“You can actually get rid of me at any time,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to kick me out the door than it is him.”
By consensus, the council agreed to remove any reference to the charter in Titcomb’s contract.
Councilwoman Lisa El-Ramey said she would have preferred a one-year renewal to three years.
“I think with the rest of us on the love fest here with Jamie, given the exodus of the previous management, and I understand the position of going to a three-year term,” El-Ramey explained. “My concerns were just extending the term already beyond one year as we’re still digging through the mud of what this is all costing the town. I know I’m in the minority here, but I just wanted to get that said.”
Maniglia made a motion to approve the contract with the changes discussed, which carried 5-0.
Titcomb’s base salary is $125,000 a year with benefits, which is the same as his previous contract, but it allows an increase without a written amendment. Severance without cause awards Titcomb four weeks’ pay with one month’s insurance pay.