By Jane Smith
When Terrence Moore stepped into his city manager position Aug. 2, he was the fifth manager in eight years for Delray Beach. When interim staffers are included in the count, the number jumps to 11.
“I can provide stability,” Moore, 51, told The Coastal Star on July 20. When he left his city manager position in College Park, Georgia, on March 2 he was that city’s longest continuous serving manager.
The College Park City Council offers only one-year contracts for its city manager. Moore, who had been with the city for eight years, decided against asking for another year and put himself on the city manager market.
His city manager experience also includes a five-year stint in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and a six-year run in Sebastian.
In addition, he will live up to his promise to buy a home in Delray Beach. He has selected a townhouse in the Legacy community, west of the interstate. Moore said the closing would take place at the end of August.
“I will be a true, vested stakeholder by owning and living in the city,” Moore told commissioners in early June. “I can be more effective and responsive. … Delray deserves nothing less.”
His base salary is $230,000, less than those of the two previous city managers, who were both fired by the commission. Mark Lauzier made $235,000 and George Gretsas started at $265,000.
At the June 10 special commission meeting held to vote on Moore’s contract, City Attorney Lynn Gelin said, “Negotiations went very smoothly. It was actually a pleasure. It’s fair to him and very fair to the city.”
Gelin also negotiated the compensation package for Gretsas. She told commissioners it favored Gretsas, not the city. But they hired Gretsas.
Moore also will receive 14% of his salary, or $32,200, into his retirement account, $600 monthly for a car allowance, moving expenses from College Park not to exceed $7,500, and $2,000 a month for six months for temporary living expenses.
He initially faced three challengers for job. His competitors were: Michael Bornstein, ex-city manager of Lake Worth Beach and former town manager of Lantana; Joseph Napoli, city manager of Cooper City in Broward County and one of the Delray manager finalists in 2019 when the job went to Gretsas; and Leonard Sossamon, Port Richey interim manager who was fired in August 2019 as administrator of Hernando County, just north of Tampa.
The morning of the commission interviews, June 8, Napoli unexpectedly dropped out. He sent an email at 7:48 a.m. that day saying he wished no longer to be considered.
Vice Mayor Shirley Johnson, who supported Napoli, gave a cryptic comment at the start of the June 8 meeting, congratulating all those who were involved in getting him to pull his name from consideration.
Johnson then grilled Bornstein, who has 23 years of city manager experience in Palm Beach County, about his role in clearing out immigrants and senior citizens from mobile home parks in Lake Worth Beach.
Bornstein said, “There were lots of un-permitted additions and health and safety violations. … It was never the intent to move people out of their homes.”
Moore, though, tugged at the commissioners’ heartstrings when he talked about growing up on the South Side of Chicago without a father and being raised by his grandmother. She recently died, he said, his eyes watering.
He earned his undergraduate degree in economics and a master’s in public administration from the University of Illinois.
In Delray Beach, Moore plans to spend time on community assessment, which he defined as “matters related to roads, finances and visiting job sites to find out how Delray Beach is viewed. … I will address all concerns about utilities.”
The city faces a proposed $1.8 million fine from the Palm Beach County branch of the Florida Department of Health for its botched reclaimed water program. Delray Beach also needs a new water treatment plant and is in the process of figuring out how to pay for it.
Moore, who was on a house-hunting trip during the first week of July, came to the July 6 commission meeting with his two sons and proudly introduced them. Parker, an incoming sophomore, is a dean’s list student at Texas A&M, and Grant is an incoming high school sophomore who plays football. Moore is divorced. His sons will spend school breaks in Delray Beach.
Lauzier’s trial coming up
Although they haven’t been in the manager’s office for months, Delray Beach’s two previous city managers are still around the area.
Lauzier, fired on March 3, 2019, sued the city in April 2019 for wrongful dismissal. He asked for a jury trial. Those trials were suspended for much of 2020 after the city and counties nationwide shut down because of the coronavirus. His lawsuit has an Aug. 6 hearing, and the trial is expected to be scheduled for sometime between Aug. 16 and Sept. 10.
Gretsas, fired on Nov. 20, could not be reached for comment. He resides in Fort Lauderdale with his family.
The next position for interim City Manager Jennifer Alvarez will be determined by Moore.
Alvarez recently received a 5% increase in her salary that was converted to 13 sick days. The City Commission gave her the raise at its July 13 meeting in recognition for her “stepping up” to fill the city manager role. Alvarez had asked for six weeks’ worth of sick days. Commissioners also agreed to evaluate her work by mid-August.