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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Towarnicki to get same benefits
As other city staff, council says

Thursday, March 28, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Newly hired Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki basically will get the same employment benefits as other city staff members, according to Mayor Kim Adkins.

That includes health insurance, vacation, sick leave and retirement benefits, his employment contract shows.

Towarnicki has spent three decades working for the city and had been the interim city manager since January 2012. Martinsville City Council promoted him to the top administrative job, approving his contract and an ordinance setting his $115,000 annual salary in unanimous votes on Tuesday.

As the city manager, Towarnicki is employed by the council, not the city itself as are other municipal employees.

Springsted Inc., a headhunting firm that helped the council conduct its city manager search, drafted the contract, Adkins said.

“We (council members) reviewed it and thought it was competitive,” and Towarnicki accepted it, she said.

Towarnicki could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

However, Adkins said Towarnicki’s contract differs somewhat from former city manager Clarence Monday’s contract. As an example, she said Monday’s contract gave him a car allowance that Towarnicki’s contract does not have.

Towarnicki will receive the same mileage reimbursement that other city employees receive for job-related travel, she said.

City Finance Director Linda Conover could not be reached for comment on how much mileage and other benefits city employees receive.

The employment contract says the city manager is classified as an “exempt employee” and therefore not entitled to overtime or holiday pay.

It also states that Towarnicki must “devote his full time and attention” to being the city manager and he cannot teach, provide consulting services or give speeches for which he would be compensated without first getting the council’s permission.

Towarnicki’s service as city manager began Tuesday and he will undergo a performance review by the council in six months and every year thereafter, the contract shows. He will be eligible for annual raises based in part on his achieving specific goals set by the council, according to the contract.

His salary cannot be cut unless other city employees in management roles see their salaries reduced, and then his salary can be reduced by no greater percentage than the average of those reductions, the contract shows.

Under the contract, Towarnicki can resign or retire at any time with at least 45 days advance written notice.

He is an at-will employee serving at the council’s pleasure. Therefore, the council can fire him — with or without cause — at any time with a majority vote, the contract shows.

But if he is fired without cause, the council will owe him a lump sum of severance pay equal to six months of his salary, not including benefits, according to the contract.

If he leaves, the city must pay him for no more than 240 hours of unused vacation time, or that time can be counted as credit toward his retirement, the contract shows.

Towarnicki was hired as the city engineer in 1982. Two years later, he was promoted to public works director. He was named assistant city manager in 2007.

Out of five people interviewed for the manager’s job, the council negotiated with Towarnicki and one other candidate. Adkins has declined to say anything about that person, except that he is a city manager in another state.

Council members negotiated with the other candidate first, Adkins said, emphasizing that Towarnicki was “always one of the top candidates.”

The other candidate had a military background that gave him a different skill set and perspective on leadership than the other candidates interviewed, and the council was intrigued with him, she said.

But negotiations failed based on various factors, including salary issues, Adkins said. She declined to elaborate.

She said the more that council members talked to the other candidate, the more that she realized his skills were not what Martinsville needed and “we had the right person in place” already with Towarnicki.

“I wasn’t disappointed when the negotiations (with the other candidate) fell through,” she added.

Not being the council’s first choice for the job “doesn’t really bother me,” Towarnicki said on Tuesday, adding that he understands council members’ desire to see what skills different applicants had.

 

 
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