AVON PARK — By a 3-2 vote, the City Council approved incoming City Manager Mark Schrader’s employment contract.
Mayor Garrett Anderson and Councilman Jim Barnard voted against approval of the contract.
At Monday’s council meeting, Barnard said he believed the vacation and sick leave to be excessive for someone who is being hired brand new. He said five weeks of vacation the first year is excessive and three weeks of sick leave is “absolutely ridiculous,” he said.
“If we are going to hire somebody and give them three weeks sick leave, I don’t think the guy is healthy enough to hire. I don’t know anybody anywhere who has gotten three weeks sick leave,” he said.
The city manager has a lot to do so he needs to be on the job, Barnard said. “If he took all the vacation and sick leave he would be off for two months in the years.”
Councilwoman Brenda Gray said she saw nothing wrong with the contract. “People don’t normally take time off if they are dedicated to their job unless they really, really need it,” she said.
Councilwoman Maria Sutherland said she was OK with the contract, which has a six-month evaluation period.
“His plate will be full. If he doesn’t like it, he can walk out with dignity; if we don’t like it, we can send him on his way and no hard feelings because after six months we will all know where we stand with this individual,” she said.
Schrader said in his 35 years in law enforcement he did not take one day of sick leave.
“If you look at all my evaluations at the Sheriff’s Office, when it comes to being there, the sheriff always wrote in there, ‘I had to make him take time off,’” Schrader said.
“I am here to work.”
Schrader said he has received “congratulations” and “condolences” on being selected for the city manager position. Someone he knows very well told him, “congratulations, but you won’t be there very long because no one is.”
He has read in the newspaper and he heard Council say there is a cloud over the process and “there is a cloud over me,” Schrader said. “If there is a cloud over the process, I get it and I have to agree with the mayor on the process.
He doesn’t believe there is a cloud over him, Schrader said.
“I believe working together we can make a difference for the city. I don’t care who voted for me; I don’t care who voted against me,” Schrader said.
Schrader will start work on Monday, Feb. 17.