Grateful Seminole to reward city manager
By MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN
SEMINOLE -- Since Frank Edmunds began working as city manager seven years ago, he's had his hands full.
He handled the city's acquisition of an independent fire district, which more than doubled the number of city employees and tripled the city's budget.
Then there was the move to expand Seminole's boundaries so the city could square off its jagged borders and bring a bigger tax base on board. The city has doubled in size and population -- 4.5 square miles and about 17,000 residents.
And there were the three park renovations, three major streetscaping projects and the construction of a new recreation complex.
"I think he's done an excellent job for us, and I hope we keep him until he retires," Council member Carol Hajek said Tuesday at Edmunds' annual evaluation.
No one knows how long Edmunds, 51, will stay in Seminole, but from the accolades he received at his evaluation, it seems all seven council members share Hajek's wish. To show their appreciation for Edmunds' trustworthiness, professionalism and strong work ethic, council members say he deserves more money.
The council is proposing to give Edmunds a 2.5 percent merit raise, increasing his salary to $95,107. A 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment adds another $2,783 to his annual salary, bringing the total to $97,890. The council also wants to give Edmunds one more week of vacation, bumping his free time to five weeks a year.
Formal approval for the increases is expected at the council's next regular meeting Aug. 27.
Council member Bob Matthews said Edmunds needs the vacation. "He's a workaholic," he said during the hourlong evaluation. "I think he works too hard."
Edmunds' salary was $50,000 when the city hired him from Newmarket, N.H., in 1995 to become Seminole's first professional manager. After three months in office, the council gave him a $12,000 raise for the successful merger with Seminole Fire Rescue and the additional responsibilities the agency brought to the city. When Edmunds was hired, the city had not yet agreed to take over the fire district.
If approved, Edmunds' salary would be at the high end of the city's pay plan for a city manager, which tops out at $117,000. Edmunds said he realizes some may question the amount, especially since his salary has nearly doubled since he was hired. But it's comparable with what other managers make from similar cities in Pinellas County, he said.
In Gulfport, the city manager's annual salary is $97,055. Gulfport encompasses 3 square miles and has 12,500 residents. The city manager in Safety Harbor, population 17,500, earns an annual salary of $84,136. In Oldsmar, where 12,700 residents live in a 9.5-square-mile area, the city manager makes $91,823.
Council members say Edmunds has established a professional working environment at City Hall. They also say he has saved the city money because certain capital projects have come under budget.
Even with the sluggish economy, Seminole's financial state is sound, city officials say. Because of conservative spending, they say, the city hasn't had to raise its millage rate in seven years or had to dip into its reserves.
Mayor Dottie Reeder praised Edmunds' abilities but said she has one concern. With all the city's projects completed, except for the new library that is currently under construction, what challenges does he have now?
"We have no specific directions or goals we're working on," she said Tuesday.
Edmunds said he was making preparations for the council to participate in a visioning retreat offered through the Florida Institute of Government at the University of South Florida. The process involves surveying residents to help the council identify the city's values and long-term goals.
"I think the city right now is at somewhat of a crossroads," Edmunds said Friday. Many of the city's physical projects are done, he said, but if Seminole continues to grow, it must plan ahead to be able to provide quality services.
The city wants to grow to 12.5 square miles and to contain 50,000 to 60,000 residents, compared with about 4.5 square miles and 17,000 people now. "We need to make sure (the growth) is not a negative on our community," he said.
By the numbers
Since Frank Edmunds became Seminole's city manager in 1995, the city has grown from 2.2 square miles to 4.5 square miles. The city's population also has nearly doubled, from roughly 9,000 to 17,000 residents. Here's a look at the increase in Edmunds' salary and city expenses since 1995.
City manager's annual salary
2002 (proposed) $97,890
1995 (November) 62,000
1995 (July) 50,000
Seminole's general fund expenditures
2002 (estimated) $12,216,387
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