On Wednesday, the Sebastian City Council voted 4-1 to continue with City Attorney Manny Anon’s current contract while rejecting additional pay and benefits. Mayor Ed Dodd was the only one opposed, citing he felt Anon’s contract should be modified to include a 6% pay raise in October 2021.
Anon joined the City of Sebastian in February 2020 when he accepted a contract. At that time, he had an annual base salary of $120,000 and currently receives full health insurance for himself and his dependents paid for by the city. The city also pays for a full-term life insurance policy and contributes $10,800 a year to his 401k retirement.
Anon is now requesting the contract be changed to reflect a base salary of $140,000 annually and a car to use for personal and business purposes, which would equate to a base salary increase of just over 14%.
The contract negotiating committee’s recommendation to Council was for a 6% increase on top of the already 3% increase he received in the fall, plus whatever additional raises other city employees will receive this fall. They also recommended he have personal use of a city paid-for vehicle.
Vice Mayor Jim Hill argued that it would be a raise of 11% total plus a car and felt that the proposed contract was “going beyond” what he could see as reasonable.
“I cannot tell every other employee in the City of Sebastian that a 3% raise is all we can scrape up for you while telling another one, just one guy, that you get 11% more and a car,” Hill told the Council.
Hill did say Anon went above and beyond to protect the city last year during its political turmoil but was stunned when he read the addendum.
“I looked at the employment agreement, or addendum, that Mr. Anon provided us and was stunned,” Hill said.
Hill also said other City Attorneys in Ft. Pierce, Stuart, West Melbourne, and Vero Beach earn about $160,000 with an annual budget double that of Sebastian.
In those cities, the City Attorney earns anywhere from 0.22% to 0.35% of the overall budget. Hill argued that Anon’s current contract is paying him 0.43% of Sebastian’s annual budget.
Hill said he believes the only right thing to do is keep the contract with the City Attorney as it is.
Mayor Ed Dodd said it’s not unusual for a city charter officer to have a business vehicle. Dodd also said it’s difficult to make comparisons because some cities, such as Ft. Pierce, have multiple attorneys.
Sebastian Daily contacted a few cities similar to Sebastian and found that not all cities provide a vehicle for their attorney for both business and personal use. However, some offer a vehicle allowance of $300 to $500 per month.
“This is entirely up to the Council. He does a good job. I will tell you that during the period of November 2019 through September 2020, he was an extremely good asset to the city during that process,” Dodd told the Council.
Councilman Fred Jones questioned the business vehicle’s expense of $5,200 a year. City Manager Paul Carlisle confirmed that with mileage, maintenance, and gas, it would total around $5,200 annually.
Councilman Christopher Nunn said that Anon deserves a bonus for handling all the legal problems last year with the city. However, he was against giving him another raise when City employees only received a 3% raise.
“He’s a great person and a great attorney. I just have a hard time with the 3% that was just given and giving another 6% now. I feel like it may be a slap in the face to some of the other employees. As far as the take-home vehicle, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. I wouldn’t have a problem supporting that. I think that’s a nice benefit,” Nunn said.
Councilman Bob McPartlan didn’t agree to another raise and said he agreed with Hill. He also felt that if the business vehicle were also for personal use, the cost would be much more than $5,200 a year.
“As far as the city vehicle being able to take home, I think it equates to a lot more than $5,200 a year. I have a state vehicle that I use, but I’m only allowed to use it for business purposes, and that saves me roughly $5,000 a year of the wear & tear of my own vehicle. So, if you get to use it for personal use, to me, that would probably increase it to $10,000,” McPartlan told the Council.
Ultimately, the City Council voted to keep Anon’s current contract without a raise or a vehicle for personal use.