City Manager's Contract Renewed; Czymbor's Review Is Positive, but There Are Some Concerns

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Byline: MARY HURST

FERNANDINA BEACH - City Manager Michael Czymbor's contract was renewed in a 3-2 vote by city commissioners Tuesday. He got a 3.5 percent raise to $100,131 and a severance package.

In addition, his contract, which had been year to year, now has no term. He can be terminated for or without cause at any time, serving at the pleasure of the City Commission.

Also added was a severance clause for pay and benefits should Czymbor be terminated with or without cause except if he were involved in criminal activity.

The termination clause includes sick pay, compensatory time and insurance, to four months this year, five months next year and six months in subsequent years. The city also pays 12 percent of his salary into an approved retirement program.

Commissioners agreed they wanted to see Czymbor back for another year, but Commissioner Joe Gerrity did not support the severance package. Mayor Bill Leeper would have rather kept the year-to-year contract.

Commissioners Ken Walker, Ron Sapp and Bruce Malcolm supported the contract renewal with Sapp amending Czymbor's salary increase from 4 percent to 3.5 percent.

Malcolm said he felt a severance package is warranted in a job like a city manager's, where Czymbor has moved his family to Fernandina from the Midwest.

'WE NEED CONTINUITY'

"He's not making cuffs in a shirt factory," Malcolm said. "We've had a whole flatbed truck load of city managers leave out of here in the past 15 years. We need continuity."

Walker said Czymbor had been criticized by some city commissioners for not being "take charge" enough.

"You say you want him to be more take-charge. Maybe that's not his style," Walker said. "In the long run, if you can foster an atmosphere of teamwork, it works better than the attitude 'Do it or else.' "

Czymbor thanked commissioners for renewing his contract and said he would take seriously their recommendations for improving his performance.

"I think the open-ended contract does what 61 percent of the voters wanted two years ago," Czymbor said. "It will promote stability and longevity for your city and the manager. Some of the problems the city's had has been due to the revolving door, resulting in a lack of leadership."

A POSITIVE REVIEW

In a citizens' survey two years ago, voters said they wanted to have more continuity in city managers and thought having an open-ended contract would create that. …