Some members of the public whispered that the city of Holmes Beach violated its city charter by hiring a city manager, which is contradictory to the charter mandate.
Island papers reported Mary Buonagura — previously a volunteer, said to be assessing employees and writing job descriptions for workers at city hall — was hired to fill a newly created city position as a human resource specialist.
Holmes Beach Commission Chairperson Jean Peelen said the assessment was somewhat erroneous at the city’s March 12 meeting.
“What we have done is contract with someone from the outside for certain services,” said Peelen. “She is not a city employee and will not receive city benefits.”
Mayor Carmel Monti hired Buonagura in early March and sought the commission’s blessing March 7. He presented her contract to the commission March 12.
“We didn’t have a contract when we discussed this before,” he said. “Now we have one and I’m looking for the commission to sign off on this, so we can put her in place.”
Commissioner Judy Titsworth moved to execute the contract. Commissioner Marvin Grossman seconded the motion, which passed 5-0.
The contract refers to Buonagura as a “contractor” with duties, effective immediately, to review and update city employee job descriptions; update policy and procedure manuals; conduct work-flow studies; create tools to enhance communication between employees; and develop professional ethical standards.
Other duties include the development of organizational charts, establish a grievance procedure for city employees and “perform all other duties as assigned by the mayor,” according to the contract.
Buonagura reports directly to the mayor and has an office at city hall. Her six-month contract will expire Aug. 31, with the city reserving the right to terminate with cause. Her salary is $2,500 a month but she will not receive city benefits.
Monti praised Buonagura’s volunteer work for the city over the past few months, assisting him by interviewing city staff to improve efficiency.
After the meeting, Monti acknowledged the position was not in the city’s 2012-13 budget. But, he said his departments across the board are under budget, and since Buonagura will be assisting all departments, “her salary will be paid for with funds from every department.”
Monti said he reserves the right to create a position such as this one without having to undergo the typical process that calls for a request for proposal, and to undergo a bid process for the job.
“She’s not a department head,” he said. “If this was a department head position then we would have to go through that process, but I’m authorized to make this decision on my own.”
Monti said he sought and received the commission’s blessing, and got approval of Buonagura’s contract.
The contract for services comes amid some criticism of Monti, including a lack of response to inquiries.
The Islander also learned from an anonymous source that code enforcement clerk Jan Gorman, a longtime employee, offered the mayor her resignation March 15 with a termination date in May, but was allegedly told to collect her personal items and immediately leave city hall with a police escort.
The Islander also learned from its anonymous source the mayor may have imposed a gag order on employees. Monti did not return a phone inquiry at press time about Gorman or the alleged prohibition on speaking to the press.