PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The City Council gave Greg Oravec a mostly glowing review of his first six months on the job and a 36 percent salary increase, which is a lesser amount than he could have received — at his request.
The City Council last week voted unanimously to boost his pay by $43,500, from $121,500 to $165,000, effective Dec. 20 — at the same time it approved 3 percent across-the-board cost-of-living increases for all employees.
His annual salary could have been boosted to $179,018, Oravec wrote in a memo to council members, based on a contract clause that states it would be "no less than the average of annual salaries for city managers in Florida cities with a population of 100,000 to 180,000." Port St. Lucie's population is about 160,000.
"We have gone through recent reorganizations, still may face many great economic challenges, like Digital Domain, and I have preached placing service above self," Oravec wrote. "Such an adjustment would be too much in light of these factors, and the effort to bring the salary in line with the average of the 14 comparable local governments would be more appropriately considered at an annual evaluation in a subsequent budget year after economic conditions have continued to improve and our team has revealed more of its great potential."
When Oravec was promoted from assistant city manager, the council did not adjust his salary commensurate with his new position. The City Council in March fired former City Manager Jerry Bentrott, promoted Oravec and included in his contract an evaluation tied to his salary and a stipulation that he would not receive a raise until all city workers did.
"Overall, he's done a great job," Mayor JoAnn Faiella told the St. Lucie News Tribune, congratulating him in her written evaluation on a "job well done" and stating she looked forward to continuing to move the city forward.
"He works closely with the council and listens to what they have to say without jumping to any conclusions," Faiella said. "He works closely with the staff and employees with the city to build better relationships with them. ... (He) continues to be an excellent leader, while still growing, learning and interacting with the organization."
Faiella said Oravec exceeded expectations in assisting council members with its policymaking choices, providing information in a timely manner, helping council members make sound decisions, setting long-term goals and informing council of administrative developments.
Oravec needs to delegate more, Faiella and other council members agreed, but she noted a new assistant city manager and special project manager will help prevent him from being overburdened.
Council member Shannon Martin called Oravec a self-starter who is diligent, thorough and enthusiastic in his duties, but mentioned some areas that need improvement. Although he communicates well, she wrote, he should take more time to assess situations before making judgments. She also noted he could be a better listener and his task-driven nature "could discourage participation in personal growth" by department heads.
"So far, I have witnessed and experienced an autocratic and authoritarian management style," she wrote. "Mr. Oravec needs to be better at accepting constructive criticism, especially from council members."
Faiella and Councilwoman Linda Bartz also mentioned wanting Oravec to be more accepting of criticism from the council.
"I would suggest that the city manager learn to recognize gray areas, work on listening skills and the ability to take suggestions without feeling that he is either being attacked or criticized," Bartz wrote.
The only below-average marks Bartz gave Oravec were in managing the staff, for not encouraging "teamwork, innovation and problem-solving," not creating a "friendly and informal relationship," and not having "supportive rather than restrictive controls for their programs."
Now-retired Councilman Jack Kelly, whose last meeting was the Nov. 19 evaluation, said he was completely happy with Oravec's performance.
"He has huge support from his staff and all of the management," Kelly said. "He involves everybody in the city and the volunteers and works well handling the budget."
Oravec "has lived up to all my expectations," Kelly said. "I have found him to be extremely hard working, very honest and his integrity is second to none."
Kelly said he also thinks Oravec should delegate more work, noting "the man never takes any time off ... (and) worked too hard."