'Great things' ahead for city, new leader says

Published May 23, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - A unanimous City Council approved a contract with Jennene Norman-Vacha late Monday, hiring her as the new city manager.

Norman-Vacha, who worked previously as Hernando County's deputy administrator, spoke briefly, saying she looked forward to working with the council and that Brooksville had "great things to accomplish."

The final details of the contract were hammered out between Norman-Vacha's attorney and Mayor David Pugh. The two compromised on a starting salary of $80,000.

Norman-Vacha, 43, had sought to continue operating her personal human resources consulting firm, but Pugh was opposed. The contract will allow her to keep her firm operating as a passive investment but will only allow her to actively conduct outside work with the council's approval.

The contract also includes a three-month severance package if the manager is let go for no cause. Reasons for a "for-cause" dismissal were also negotiated. Norman-Vacha did not want violations of the personnel policy and violations of the employment contract to be included in that list, but in the final version of the contract, they were included.

The council had said that it wanted to be able to give 60 days notice to the manager if it was going to choose not to renew her contract. The version approved by the council is 90 days.

The contract with the previous manager, Richard Anderson, who left in January, was 120 days. Council members said they could live with the compromise.

"I think it's a good contract," Pugh said. "It's a fair deal for both sides."

Her first day is June 7.

On Tuesday, Norman-Vacha was savoring the outcome of the meeting.

"I was excited we finally had a contract. It was really happening," she said.

She said she knows that she has plenty of work waiting for her, including hiring a police chief and a human resources director. The city will also soon be getting a new attorney.

Norman-Vacha will be starting work at a critical time in the city's budget process and at a time when state lawmakers are discussing a major overhaul in Florida's taxing structure that could have significant impact on the city's finances.

Still, with so much ahead, she said she expects no regrets.

"I'm going to have that opportunity to walk in and work with the city and get the city moving forward," she said.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or 352 754-6117.

Fast Facts:

In other business

Brooksville City Council on Monday night took the following actions:

- City Council approved on first reading the rezoning of an 11.5-acre site at the southeast corner of Southern Hills Boulevard and the planned Governor Boulevard. Developer Crosland-Southern Hills Blvd. LLC is proposing construction of 164 residential units in three-story apartment buildings. Each apartment building will contain 12 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The clubhouse building will include eight one- and two-bedroom apartments over a one-story clubhouse. A second and final reading is slated for June 4.

- The council gave preliminary approval to rezoning the 11-acre former hospital site on Ponce DeLeon Boulevard southwest of downtown, which is proposed for various uses. The plan for the old Brooksville Regional Hospital includes an assisted living facility, government offices, retail stores, a restaurant and educational facilities. The second and final reading is scheduled for June 4.