It looks like New Port Richey is losing its city manager.
John Schneiger took time off early last month and has been out of the office since then, and it looks like he doesn’t have a desire to return to the job.
“He feels that he has lost the support of the majority of council,” said Mayor Bob Consalvo at a council meeting Tuesday. “He does not feel that he can be an effective leader, at this point, with the city.
"...At this point, he has no desire to come back and work in the city,” Consalvo said later.
Schneiger’s employment agreement with the city is a “continuing contract,” said Consalvo. The only options the city has are to sever the contract or continue Schneiger's contract and then fire him, which would require 45 days notice per city code, or take another action to remove him. Schneiger is up for his yearly evaluation Nov. 1.
Schneiger is in favor of an “amiable” separation with the city, Consalvo said, and is proposing the city pay him a severance package.
The package is estimated to be worth $44,000 and is covered in the contract, Consalvo said. The package includes 4.5 months of pay, vacation pay and sick and medical benefits.
If the city council agrees to sever the contract, Schneiger will agree to not pursue legal action against the city or talk negatively about the city, and the city would agree not to talk negatively about him.
Consalvo called on the council to have a special meeting on Oct.9 for the city to take a final decision on whether to sign off on severing the contract with Schneiger. That would also be his last day.
The council could not take action on the Schneiger's separation Tuesday because the contract was not on the agenda, but they agreed to hold the meeting on the 9th to vote on paying out the severance agreement to Schneiger.
“My feeling is that it doesn’t appear that the two entities can work together anymore,” Consalvo said. “We’ve lost faith both ways. It looks like the sooner that we do something, the sooner that we can go out and seek a new city manager so we can get the city back on track.”
Schneiger was not at the city council meeting Tuesday and probably won’t come to the Oct. 9 one. He took medical leave around Sept. 11 and is now on vacation leave, although he sat down with Consalvo Monday to express his feelings about wanting to leave.
The city has been confronted with dire financial predictions. It has been struggling with money problems since before Schneiger was hired for the job in May 2010. Recent budget negotiations were not a happy affair, resulting in the layoffs of eight city employees.
Councilman Bill Phillips said that the way Schneiger's contract was written, it doesn’t give the city many options. He said he thinks the city needs to have a different type of contract should it hire a new city manager.
“This perpetualism here…it’s just not right going forward,” he said. “You end up basically paying someone to go away.”
He said he’d liked to see the city sever the contract with Schneiger.
City Councilman Bob Langford said, “I’d like to give him what he’s asking for and just move on.”
“I think a lot of people don’t understand that this is a council-manager form of government, and he takes his direction from us. I think he takes a lot of blame for the direction that we give him.?
Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe said he was “disappointed” in Schneiger’s decision.
“He was a great manager when we hired him,” he said. “He has done an enormous amount for the city. But I also recognize the toll it’s taken on him."
Consalvo said he wants his fellow city council members to think about having a stand-in for Schneiger until they find a replacement.
Schneiger was not available for comment.