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Town manager, attorney to receive raises

Town commissioners voted 6-0 to approve raises for Tom Harmer and Maggie Mooney.

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  • | 7:51 p.m. October 5, 2020
  • Longboat Key
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Longboat Key town commissioners voted unanimously to give Town Manager Tom Harmer and Town Attorney Maggie Mooney raises in large part to their work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioners provided their annual evaluations of Harmer and Mooney during Monday’s virtual town commission meeting.

“COVID is a problem. It’s been a problem that’s hurt some communities very hard. It’s caused layoffs. It’s caused budget constraints,” Mayor Ken Schneier said. “We have been fortunate, and in no small part through the efforts of the town staff, and Tom and Maggie in particular, that we haven’t been hit hard with this.”

Both Harmer and Mooney said and wrote that they did not seek raises because of the economic impacts related to the pandemic.

Schneier pointed out the town of Longboat Key did not increase its millage rate for fiscal year 2021 or decrease its services for residents.

Harmer’s current salary is $198,400.80, according to Town Finance Director Susan Smith. He’s worked for the town since December 2017 and will receive a 2.5% raise, the same increase as the town's other employees. 

“I have mixed feelings about the raise,” Harmer said. “I really was serious and am serious about unusual times, uncertain times with the economy and really tried to make it clear that I wasn’t asking and didn’t want the commission to take any action.”

To compare, Venice City Manager Ed Lavalle started his position in March 2012 and earns $208,450 a year. Marco Island City Manager Michael McNees began in July 2019 and makes $194,250 each year. North Port City Manager Peter Lear started in July 2017 and makes $161,460 annually.

Harmer said a few commissioners told him it was not his decision whether he would receive a raise.


Commissioners evaluated Harmer in 10 categories with a score of 3 representing the highest mark he could receive. The categories are professional skills and expertise, commission relations, citizen and public relations, policy execution, intergovernmental relations, staffing and management, fiscal management, planning and organizational development, leadership and decision making and individual characteristics.

At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop and District 1 Commissioner Sherry Dominick began on the commission in late March as the pandemic started to take hold.

Sherry Dominick (left) and BJ Bishop (right) were sworn in to the Longboat Key Town Commission on March 23, 2020. So far, it's marked their first and only in-person meeting during their time on the commission.
Sherry Dominick (left) and BJ Bishop (right) were sworn in to the Longboat Key Town Commission on March 23, 2020. So far, it's marked their first and only in-person meeting during their time on the commission.

“Particularly with the issues that have been raised with COVID, I think both Mr. Harmer and Ms. Mooney have worked beyond normal circumstances, and probably well beyond normal hours,” Bishop said. “[It’s been] a really tough and we are very, very fortunate that because of the outstanding management of the town, we’re in as good of shape as we’re in right now because there are a lot of communities that are struggling to survive.”

Nearly every day throughout the pandemic, Harmer has emailed commissioners updates about COVID-19 data from the Florida Department of Health and the departments of health in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Dominick was the only commissioner who did not give Harmer a perfect score of 30, giving him a 29. She gave Harmer a score of 2 out of 3 in the staffing and management category. However, Dominick joked she needed to better understand how the ratings go for next year’s evaluation.

“I would echo what Commissioner Bishop is saying. In my prior life, I worked with a fair number of municipal managers, and I've never seen anything like this,” Dominick said. “I mean, this is really I think, unexcelled in my experience. And Tom remains unflappable, at least from the exterior, he does.

“And, he remains unfailingly kind, and he's always efficient. And, he always follows up on everything you asked him to follow up on. And, I think that he's wonderful.”

Vice Mayor Mike Haycock did not attend Monday’s virtual meeting. Haycock gave Harmer a perfect score of 30, but in written comments, the vice mayor was critical of the town’s handling of June’s sewage line break and spill.

“The interaction with the media during the underground leak did not go very well and there probably are some learnings from that experience,” Haycock wrote. “My only constructive feedback is we probably should have been more proactive with the press during the force main leak.”

Maggie Mooney has filled her position as town attorney since July 2013.
Maggie Mooney has filled her position as town attorney since July 2013.

As part of a fee agreement with the town, Mooney’s law firm Persson, Cohen & Mooney, P.A. has an hourly rate that is adjusted each year on Oct. 1 by the Consumer Price Index. Mooney said the rate typically increases between 1.5%-3%. She insisted her firm would elect not to adjust its rates for the upcoming budget year because of the pandemic, but Schneier and commissioners insisted on honoring the agreement.

“Maggie, this is one of the ways that we can express our appreciation for what you do,” Schneier said.

Mooney’s hourly rate is $244 and some of her associates are $228 per hour, according to Smith.

“We recognize the impact that [the pandemic] has on local governments, and we just appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve the town,” Mooney said. “These are tough times on everybody, so we recognize that and government is not immune to this one.”

Mooney has filled her position since July 2013. Commissioners evaluated her in 11 categories and she could receive marks of Excellent, Fully Satisfactory, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory for each. She earned more marks in the Excellent and Fully Satisfactory categories than anything else.

“You’ve been a tremendous help to us in all things we’ve needed,” Mayor Ken Schneier said. “I think you’ve kept us out of trouble wherever it’s possible to do that, and where we have gotten into some trouble, you’ve helped us minimize the effects.”


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