Delray will start off the new year with a new city manager

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Staff report

Delray Beach will start off the new year with a new city manager.

Commissioners signed off on an employment contract with George Gretsas last month during a special meeting.

The negotiated package was approved in a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Adam Frankel and Shirley Johnson dissenting.

The decision to move ahead with Gretsas came about after negotiations to onboard Michael Cernech failed. Cernech opted to pull out of negotiations before the commission had a chance to vote on a proposal.

Gretsas will likely begin after the start of 2020. He has to give the city of Homestead, where he currently serves as city manager, proper notice per his contract, which is 90 days, before starting the new Delray job.

Gretsas will earn $265,000 per year. He will not be eligible for a raise for the first two years of his employment with the city.

Other highlights of his contract include 30 vacation days, 15 sick days and a car allowance of $750 per month. The city will cover the cost of his health insurance policy, which totals $25,200 per year and pay for a life insurance policy that is two times more than his annual salary.

Commissioner Adam Frankel said the proposed contract was an “exorbitant demand.”

He wanted the deal to be scaled back and more in line with what the city offered to Michael Cernech.

“There is no middle ground with Mr. Gretsas,” he said.

The city first proposed an annual salary of $257,000 to Cernech. He countered the offer with $270,000 with an automatic 5 percent increase and then additional 3 percent lump sum merit award that could be awarded by the commission. That would bring his salary in 2020-2021 to $283,500.

Cernech wanted a $1.5 million life insurance policy to be paid for by the city and an $800 car allowance.

But the majority of the commission agreed the contract extended to Gretsas was better than the one Cernech wanted.

“When we started this process, we sat down with our recruiter and we set a pay range and I remember him saying get ready to take out your checkbook,” Commissioner Ryan Boylston said. “We knew we were going to have to be aggressive.”

Other terms of the deal include: Gretsas can’t be terminated within 90 days of an election; if he is terminated there is a process for him to meet with the city’s investigator and given time to contest any charges; if he is terminated without cause he will received 20 weeks of base pay and other benefits.

He also asked for a condition he has in his current agreement with Homestead. If commissioners want to fire him for cause he has a set amount of time to ask for a public hearing that would be scheduled in 60 days. He could be placed on administrative leave with pay during that time period.

“Is this the contract that I would have liked? No,” Mayor Shelly Petrolia said. “But can I live with it? Ya, I can.”