Keystone approves 3% pay raise for city manager Kornegay

Favorable vote overlooks objection from mayor Karen Lake

By Nick Blank
Posted 7/10/19

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – City council members voted 4-1 Monday to approve a 3% pay raise for City Manager Scott Kornegay, and they learned that nearly 58% of the residents approve of the work being done …

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Keystone approves 3% pay raise for city manager Kornegay

Favorable vote overlooks objection from mayor Karen Lake

Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – City council members voted 4-1 Monday to approve a 3% pay raise for City Manager Scott Kornegay, and they learned that nearly 58% of the residents approve of the work being done by the city, Mayor Karen Lake said.

Lake was the lone vote against Kornegay’s raise from $71,500 to $75,000. With benefits and travel, his salary package is almost $96,000, which comes from taxpayers, Lake said. She scored Kornegay lower than other council members on his evaluation.

Keystone Heights doesn’t oversee water or sewer utilities, electric systems or a police department. Other cities with similar populations with a greater breadth of services, such as Polk City, Dunnellon or Crescent City, paid city managers between $78,000-$80,000.

“I think it’s important for the public to know the total investment in the position,” Lake said.

Council members Stephen Hart, Larry Peoples and Tony Brown spoke in favor of Kornegay. Brown, a former mayor and council member with terms in the 1990s, referred to Kornegay as best city manager he had seen in past meetings.

Kornegay was praised by Keystone environmental advocacy group Save Our Lakes earlier in the meeting. Brown said Kornegay had proven his ability to work with other agencies.

“You heard from Save Our Lakes, we went through a time where our communications, I don't know how else to put it, sucked, between the council, Save Our Lakes and the St. Johns River Water Management District,” Brown said. “To have someone on board who knew how to communicate and be a leader and take the bull by the horns, it was very impressive.”

Hart called the raise wise and said he wanted council members to look at the issue objectively.

“We are competing in the marketplace for talent,” he said.

Referring to letters to the editor in Keystone publications against Kornegay’s potential raise, Peoples said he thought there was an agenda against Kornegay. This comment provoked a woman in the audience to lash out at Peoples.

Later in the meeting, Lake presented council members with a survey that garnered about 100 responses. The survey was privately funded and distributed through volunteers. It was sent to 343 voters in 219 homes.

The survey asked voters if they approved of the city’s performance, if they trusted the city and what their preferred projects were. Fifty-six of the 97 responses approved of the city’s job. Resident comments called for a refurbished beach pavilion, and more music events and festivals.

Numerous responses called for better maintained parks. Lack of youth programs and the environment were the largest concerns, according to the survey.

Another question asked how the council should handle Kornegay’s raise. There were 24 responses that called for a raise of varying levels, and 60 replied “Give no raise.”

“[The survey] does keep us grounded, it reminds us who we work for and why we’re up here,” Lake said.

Brown said he liked the idea of a survey but chafed at Lake distributing the survey without council input. He said the city worked hard to provide events or a farmer’s market in the past, though few participated.

“My suggestion, if you ever do something like this [survey] again, is to bring it before this board,” Brown said. “I’ll tell you right now, we’re not a team.”

Following many of the recent meetings, residents spoke in favor of Kornegay’s performance and stressed unity from the council. About 50 people attended, including County Commissioner Gavin Rollins, who addressed the council during public comment.

“I would ask you to put the city, the community, above minor differences and frustrations,” Rollins said. “Let’s have a team effort. Let’s keep that momentum moving forward.”

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