With an employee agreement accepted and ratified, the new interim town manager for the Town of Fort Myers Beach is officially on the payroll.
During its morning meeting, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously agreed upon terms of employment for new hire Don Stillwell. Basically, Stilwell agrees that his employment by the Town is "at will" and consists of a salary of $10,000 per month as well as a vehicle allowance, health insurance and phone and computer as benefits.
"What is good for Don Stilwell, I will make even better for the Town of Fort Myers Beach. I will work very hard to show you that," Stilwell said. "I will show by my actions more than my speech."
New interim Beach manager Don Stilwell (r) listens in as Council members, led by Beach Mayor Alan Mandel, set goals for his administration during the afternoon workshop.
Stilwell is the ninth manager to take the reigns of Beach manager since the Town incorporated on Dec. 31, 1995. The list includes Marsha Segal-George, John Gucciardo, Rachel Lambert, David Sallee, Gary Parker, David Sallee (second term), Scott Janke, Jack Green and Terry Stewart,
One week into the job, Stilwell stated at the meeting that it looks "very likely" that the garbage bin issue at Bay Oaks Recreational Campus will be resolved within the next 10 days.
"I like to give myself some fudge room, but I think it will be sooner than that," he said. "It looks like it will come together."
In the afternoon workshop session, Council discussed and outlined 11 goals for Stilwell's administration to tackle. They are as follows: hiring a public relations position; beach vegetation; beach nourishment; County partnership on Estero Boulevard; continued work on potable water; storm water financing and implementation; Mound House completion; CIP plan development; continued County staff relations; short-term rentals and Seafarer's property development.
Councilman Bob Raymond believes two sets need to be established -one for interim and one for permanent manager.
"I'm sure the goals he receives now will be different than what the permanent manager will need," he said.
While Stilwell listened in, Council members built the goals' list and reviewed them during the process.
Councilwoman Jo List began with the importance of hiring a firm that is familiar with the Beach issues for a public relations position. During last budget session, Council approved the funding for such a contracted position, but it has yet to be advanced.
"Whenever something happens with the Town, I think that it is very important to make sure the policy or goals that has been set by Council is well published, well-known and well understood," she said. "It's a missing piece of this administration that I personally think is worth a better and stronger look at."
"We (need to) interview someone on a contract basis that will provide that service to the Town and come up with a policy for Council and staff," added Beach Mayor Alan Mandel.
Regarding beach vegetation and beach nourishment, Mandel believes a plan needs to be developed to protect property rights island-wide. Council also discussed a needed funding mechanism for a possible next beach restoration project.
"Beach nourishment may have to come again if we are having erosion," said Mandel. "We need to have a plan in place for people to be comfortable with so, that we don't have to fight beach nourishment."
With a Beach resident and former Beach mayor in the chairperson seat of the Lee County Board of County Commissioners, Stilwell reminded Council members the time to act on many of the listed goals is now.
"If we're going to do something, now is the time to do it," he said.