“Do I have to go on record to say that I’m not happy with what’s happened with the city manager and me and things that have happened? Absolutely not happy,” Barnas said. “Do I think I want to have this continue? Absolutely not. I think we ought to go in a different direction.”
Barnas asked High Springs City Attorney Raymond Ivey to draft a preliminary resolution to terminate High Springs City Manager Jeri Langman in preparation for the Aug. 15 meeting. Despite the fact that Barnas stated he wanted to consider placing a 90-day hire process, which includes a 30-day ad, during the Wednesday meeting, the agenda reads a consideration of Resolution 2012-L, which will notify Langman of the commission’s intent to terminate her employment.
According to Barnas, attorney Ivey said the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the current manager from when she was originally hired as an Interim Manager still holds. Based on the MOU, Langman is a temporary employee helping the City until a permanent manager can be found.
Barnas suggested the City place an ad in search of a city manager who has finance knowledge so that High Springs could combine the positions of city manager and the city finance services director.
Commissioner Sue Weller contends that Langman’s status was changed to permanent manager at some point, and therefore the City Charter requires a resolution providing notice to Langman that she is going to be released from employment.
“I’m not trying to argue with you in terms of what you want to do,” Weller said. “I’m concerned about the process of it.”
The Commission stated during the Aug. 9 meeting that Langman’s status was made permanent to comply with labor laws concerning benefits.
“You can’t make her full-time to be compliant with wage and benefit laws, but come back to say this [the MOU] trumps it,” Commissioner Scott Jamison said. “To me, it’s mind-boggling that this would even be considered.”
Despite the fact that the majority of the Commission seemed in favor of placing an ad in several local papers, Jamison felt it was inappropriate to advertise a job when there was currently someone filling the position.
“Just because it’s legal to do it, doesn’t make it right. What’s going on right now is wrong,” he said.
Barnas’ suggestion does not come as a surprise. As recently as July 10 and June 28 meetings, he questioned his fellow commissioners about whether they were happy with Langman’s work.
“Obviously, we put a city manager in place as an interim city manager and then as a permanent city manager. Did we make a mistake? Yes or no, it will be debated forever and ever,” Barnas said during the June 28 meeting. “But, the question now becomes, as another commissioner put it, Mr. Mayor, is it working for us?
During that meeting, the Commission scheduled a July 10 special meeting to discuss the hiring process for a new city manager, and Barnas requested Ivey to draft a resolution to terminate Langman. Although the commission didn’t take action on July 10, they did set a salary range of $48,000 to $75,000 annually for a new city manager. Barnas and Commissioner Linda Gestrin were in favor of moving forward with the search for a new manager.
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