Fernandina Beach City Commission puts city clerk finalists’ selection on hold

Submitted by
Susan Hardee Steger

Fernandina Beach City Commission
Fernandina Beach City Commission

A special meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission scheduled the afternoon of April 9, made little headway in selecting finalists for the position of city clerk. By the end of the hour long meeting, the commission reached a decision to wait until the next regular commission meeting to determine whether to delay or discontinue the candidate selection process.

“If it were my department, I’d leave the position vacant for a year,” answered City Manager Joe Gerrity to a question posed by Commissioner Filkoff. “The clerk’s office is staffed adequately, and they are responding promptly to public record requests. We are in for a difficult budget year. Whatever we can save upfront, I’m interested in saving,” says Gerrity.

Hiring an additional employee to assume the city clerk position will result in an increase to salary expense of approximately $85,000. The city clerk’s office is currently staffed with three full time and one part time employee. Kim Briley, serving as deputy city clerk is a candidate for the clerk position.

Commissioner Boner expressed his desire to delay the process. “If you are comparing hiring someone now, or saving $80,000 or $85,000 by waiting, they [candidates] have less invested in their resume than we do at $85,000. Now is the time to say stop and do this [continue with current setup] for awhile before we go ahead and find a candidate,” says Boner.

With budget workshops beginning in June, Commissioner Arlene Filkoff expressed her concerns. “I don’t like the idea of hiring, adding to staff, and then cutting people. I don’t want to be there if we can avoid it.”

Since former City Clerk Mary Mercer’s departure in January, the deputy city clerk is assuming the clerk’s duties. Attorney Tammi Bach’s suggested that the role and responsibilities expected of the deputy city clerk be clarified. Commissioner Charlie Corbett responded, “Obviously if we do this with the clerk as it is, we need to sit down with her and explain this is what you need to do and this is going to be your job, so there is no gray area. You’ve got to be fair to her, tell her what she needs to do and if she [doesn’t] do it, happy trails.”

“I’m not 100% convinced. I need time to digest this. I”m not willing to make a decision right here and now,” says Pelican as the meeting began to wind down. The next regular meeting of the city commission will be held on April 16 at 6:00 p.m. at which time discussions will continue.

April 9, 2013 7:45 p.m.