The Coastal Star

Highland Beach: Town manager’s contract renewed despite some criticism

INSET BELOW: Kathleen Weiser

By Rich Pollack

    Despite early concerns expressed by one commissioner, Highland Beach town leaders agreed unanimously this month to renew the contract of Town Manager Kathleen Weiser and to give her a salary increase.
    During their June meeting, commissioners voted 5-0 to renew Weiser’s contract and to give her a 3 percent pay increase to her current base salary of close to $134,000.
    Weiser, who has been town manager since February 2011, had been praised by the majority of the town’s five commissioners at a meeting in May but received an unsatisfactory review of her job performance from Commissioner Carl Feldman during a meeting last month.
    However, at the town meeting a week later, Feldman said he had met with Weiser for two hours in between the meetings and has since changed his views.
    “We both agreed on some things and disagreed on others,” Feldman said. “I’m a team player and if the rest of the commissioners want to keep Kathleen, I’ll go along with it.”
    Feldman, in a written document distributed to other commissioners during the May workshop meeting, expressed concern with Weiser’s handling of the current $850,000 Town Hall renovation project, focusing largely on procurement issues.
    “This is a business that we’re running and we should be running it like a business,” Feldman said after the meeting. “I don’t have any animosity toward the town manager. I just don’t think she’s doing a great job.”
    One of Feldman’s chief complaints was that the town did not follow its purchasing policy of getting three bids for a general contractor to handle the Town Hall renovations.
    Weiser, however, said the town had followed a request-for-qualifications process commonly used by governments for major construction projects, which was reviewed by the town attorney before being presented to the Town Commission for a vote.
    “The issue Commissioner Feldman brought up was approved by the Town Commission,” Weiser said.
    Feldman said his concerns were not personal or political, but instead were driven by his efforts to ensure that the town is run efficiently and effectively.
    “I’m in this to do the right job for the people,” Feldman said. “I just want to be known as the guy who is watching.”  
    Mayor Bernard Featherman, in voting to renew Weiser’s contract, said he hopes the town and town manager will adhere to principals of openness and transparency.
    During the May workshop, Vice Mayor Ron Brown said he was pleased with Weiser’s performance as did Commissioners Dennis Sheridan and Lou Stern.  
    “Mrs. Weiser is the right person in the right job for the right time,” Brown said. “I think she’s done an outstanding job.
“She’s done a heck of a job,” he said. “She has the professional knowledge we need and the contacts both locally and statewide.”

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