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East County Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 1 year ago

Manatee County Administrator Cheri Coryea agrees to negotiate separation agreement

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Manatee County will negotiate with former Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines to become acting administrator.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Manatee County commissioners voted 7-0 to direct County Attorney William Clague to negotiate a contract with former Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines for the acting county administrator position and 6-1 to give Clague permission to negotiate a separation agreement with Administrator Cheri Coryea’s attorney Tuesday.

A separation agreement would eliminate the need for the Feb. 17 special meeting that was scheduled for the commissioners to vote on the termination of Coryea’s contract. The motion also included an extension of Coryea’s term to Feb. 23.

Manatee County Administrator Cheri Coryea's attorney and Manatee County Attorney William Clague will negotiate a separation agreement at the direction of county commissioners.

The extension was given to ensure the county has enough time to solidify the transition from Coryea to the acting administrator. Clague said there are certain functions that can only be fulfilled by the county administrator, according to county regulations.

“There really has to be somebody in that position,” Clague said. “We’re talking about everything from preparing and submitting a budget to the board, filling vacant positions, we have some significant vacancies coming up, assuring that staff responds to board direction, managing the county’s finances and assuring that essential services are provided to people in this county everyday.”

Several commissioners who had worked with Hines in the past expressed their support for him, especially after considering the temporary nature of the acting administrator position. Commissioner Vanessa Baugh pointed out that he could be helpful in finding the permanent administrator because he has helped search for several in his previous role.

“I think this board needs to figure out a way to come together and be supportive,” Baugh said. “We need to try to show some unity. I think Mr. Hines will be great at helping us try to do that.”

Commissioner James Satcher dissented on the vote regarding the short extension of Coryea’s term, though he was actually concerned about the speed at which the commissioners committed to Hines. He wanted more dialogue and the chance to propose his own candidate.

“I don’t approve of the way this is going down,” Satcher said. “But we’re on the move, and that’s fine.”

Other commissioners, such as Baugh, said it wouldn’t be healthy to lengthen Coryea’s tenure more than necessary. Coupled with the necessity of ensuring someone fills the role, the commissioners decided to move forward with Hines.

Baugh told Satcher she didn’t envision asking possible candidates for the permanent position to step in as acting administrator because it would put them in a tough situation where they would have to rush into the job. She said he should hang on to the candidate he had in mind when it comes time to search for a permanent administrator. Clague said he expects the hiring process to be more transparent and thorough when filling the permanent position.

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Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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