By Joe Capozzi
At a special meeting to discuss the process of finding a new town manager, South Palm Beach council members reached a consensus Jan. 30: They’d like the current town manager to stick around a little longer.
It could take at least four and as many as six months before the town hires a new town manager, council members were told during a presentation by an adviser with the International City/County Management Association.
Council members, who were also told they could expect 30 to 50 applicants, agreed it would be in the best interests of South Palm Beach if Manager Robert Kellogg agrees to stay until the new manager is hired.
At the Town Council’s next meeting, Feb. 14, Kellogg will be asked to agree to a six-month extension during which he can be terminated with notice as soon as a new town manager is hired.
The council that day also will discuss whether to hire a professional recruiting firm, which can cost $25,000, or use the ICMA services, which are free except for $2,500 in background checks for each candidate and for meals and travels for the ICMA adviser.
Also that day, the council will discuss salary and qualifications for a new town manager. Kellogg, town manager since 2019, is making $105,000 a year.
Kellogg, who did not attend the Jan. 30 meeting, announced in November that he planned to retire at the end of March. He made that decision a day after councilman Ray McMillan called for his termination, a request that got no support from other council members.
On Jan. 30, most council members said they didn’t like the idea of hiring an interim town manager or of continuing to give Kellogg monthly extensions, as they have had for part of the past year, until a new manager is hired.
But McMillan didn’t like the idea of Kellogg sticking around longer. “I feel like we’re doing everything for him,’’ he said.
Other council members didn’t agree with McMillan’s characterization.
“I think it’s doing it for us,’’ councilman Monte Berendes said. “We want to look good as a town. I think somebody new coming in is going to look at us like we’re letting him go with nobody (in charge).’’
Vice Mayor Bill LeRoy agreed, saying that if a town manager candidate finds out “we’ve got a manager from month to month, they’re going to think, ‘I don’t want to work for that town.’’’
Near the end of the meeting, McMillan sternly asked why Kellogg didn’t attend. “Why isn’t he out here? Isn’t that part of his job?’’
Town Attorney Glen Torcivia said Kellogg didn’t think it appropriate to attend a meeting that was called for the purpose of finding his replacement.
“It’s embarrassing for him and for us,’’ LeRoy added.
A majority of council members also agreed the town manager should be a full-time position, shooting down an idea broached at a previous meeting about hiring a part-time manager.
One potential candidate attended the Jan. 30 meeting: Philip Harris, an executive director in the city manager’s office in North Miami since 2022, according to his résumé. Harris, whom McMillan endorsed at two previous South Palm Beach Town Council meetings, worked in 2021 as an assistant to the city administrator in West Palm Beach.
Speaking during public comments at the end of the Jan. 30 meeting, Harris said he attended “just to observe the process” and was “very much interested in the town.’’
Former Ocean Ridge Town Manager Jamie Titcomb also attended. Although he told council members he was not interested in a full-time job, he said he was available to offer advice.