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LC City Manager Search, Thomas Thomas Pt – IV: Thomas Nixes City Offer & Sixth Month Eval – Wants $140k, Strict Eval Terms, & Signing Bonus

Business and planning graphic with caption: Negotiations have begun, Thomas Thomas - a counter proposal

widget-city-manager-storiesLAKE CITY, FL –  On Wednesday, January 26 at 2:02 pm, Lake City City Manager Candidate Thomas Thomas threw down the gauntlet, rejecting the offered City salary, evaluation terms, moving expenses, annual leave, and a little more.


City Manager candidate Thomas Thomas listens to the Lake City City Council
City Manager candidate Thomas Thomas.

The reason behind the cancelation of Monday’s special meeting to review City Manager candidate Thomas Thomas’ response to the City's written 12th-hour offer by City Attorney Koberlein became crystal clear at a little before 6 pm last night. City Clerk Audrey Sikes sent out an update for the Council's 8 am Saturday special meeting.

At 7:32 pm on Sunday, January 23, City Attorney Koberlein finally contacted City Manager candidate Thomas in writing. Mr. Koberlein also mentioned a call he had earlier in the afternoon with Mr. Thomas.

During the January 19 special meeting, headhunter Narloch made it clear she had no idea what Mr. Thomas desired in an employment agreement. She told the City Council, “I just like to ask the candidate, ‘What's your wish list?’ Knowing you're not going to get everything, ‘What’s your wish list.’ … I can work with the attorney on that to bring back a recommendation.”

Ms. Narloch continued, “I want to point out that Mr. Thomas was not able to bring his spouse with him… I'm sure if you are moving your family across country – I'm sure they would want to make a trip here as a family. That would kind of really be the next step… to have the family come back, and the City pay for that, to learn what they have to learn, look at the housing market."

Mayor Witt inquired if Monday’s meeting should be “held up.”

Ms. Narlock replied, "We can accomplish a lot in a few days. I think the meeting on Monday would be fine to address where we are in the process. I'll get as much information as I can, not only about the different components of an agreement, but also about the availability of him and his family to call him for an on-site visit for a few days to hang out. They need to look at everything."

Looking at the history of the City Manager Search since the special meeting on January 19, it was evident that the only thing that might have been addressed was why it took the City Attorney four days to reach out to Mr. Thomas.

The City Offer and Mr. Thomas’ Response

Thomas Thomas in Lincoln Park, IL - Youtube
On January 15, 2020, Thomas Thomas was interviewed in Lincoln Park, IL. Unlike in Lake City, the microphones were spot on and Mr. Thomas and the City Council were crystal clear. This is a chance to learn more about the man who may be the next Lake City City Manager. Watch & Listen

City Attorney referred to the City offer as “conceptual terms of employment.”

Other than the employment date and the amount of moving expenses, everything is as in former City Manager Helfenberger's contract.

Mr. Thomas emailed Attorney Koberlein his response yesterday, January 26, at 3:02 pm Florida time.

Mr. Thomas characterized his response as, “My initial responses to the terms of employment.”

Mr. Thomas moved out his start date to March 31 and bumped up his base salary to $140k.

For relocation, Mr. Thomas was not tied into a specific dollar amount, but the lowest of three bids to move him and his family and an airline ticket to fly him here to begin working for the City.

Unlike City Managers Johnson and Helfenberger, Mr. Thomas asks for life insurance equal to his annual salary.

Mr. Thomas is asking for what he calls "two weeks annual leave upfront," which is, in effect, a $5,384 signing bonus.

City Manager Johnson received a couple of extra weeks after signing his contract. Mr. Helfenberger's bonus was incorporated in his contract.

Mr. Thomas is not buying into a six-month evaluation-probationary period. Instead, he is requesting an annual evaluation "based on goals set during [a] 2-day retreat with [a] consultant."

The consultant is a facilitator trained in best practices and developing working and strategic plans, something the City has never done.

If the City Fathers accept this requirement, not only will Mr. Thomas’ evaluation be delayed, but the retreat will be subject to the sunshine law. This will give the public the chance to observe its elected representatives think, talk, plan, set goals, and come up with a final plan with benchmarks and other defined objectives, a first in Lake City/Columbia County.


This Saturday morning, January 29, at the uncivilized time of 8 am, Mayor Witt has called a special meeting to discuss the future of the Lake City – Thomas Thomas affair.

It is Lake City: anything can happen.

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