- Bill DiPaolo Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Jupiter’s new town manager will start in mid-February — and will get an annual guaranteed raise of 2.5 percent for the first four years not dependent on his annual performance review.
“This is a tough pill to swallow for teachers and police officers. It’s a privelege to come to Jupiter,” said Indian Creek resident Ben Klug, one of several residents who opposed the contract negotiated with Matt Benoit, now city manager in Huntsville, Texas.
Benoit’s annual salary is $215,000, according to the unanimous vote Tuesday night by the council. The town charter requires the town manager live in Jupiter.
Mayor Todd Wodraska said he agreed to the guaranteed annual salary increases to meet Benoit’s salary requirements.
Wodraska negotiated the salary package with Benoit.
“(Benoit) is a top shelf town manager. Anybody would be lucky to have him,” said Wodraska.
Jupiter’s former town manager Andy Lukasik’s annual salary was about $180,000. Lukasik, who began as Jupiter town manager in 2004, left in March to become village manager of North Palm Beach.
Benoit’s base pay in Huntsville is about $164,000.
Benoit’s raises should be based on job performance, not guaranteed, said Jupiter resident Cheryl Schneider.
“The contract is too open ended. The town manager is wholly unaccountable to the public,” Schneider said.
Benoit is coming from a smaller community to Jupiter.
Huntsville is an inland southeast Texas city of about 39,000. Jupiter has about 64,000 residents.
Huntsville’s annual operating budget is about $70 million, less than Jupiter’s $90 million operating budget.
Huntsville has about 280 employees, about 100 less than Jupiter.
Prior to being Huntsville city manager, Benoit was assistant city manager in Farmers Branch, Texas, for three years. Benoit also held assistant and city manager positions in Wichita Falls, Texas and Herington, Kansas.
Benoit has a master’s degree in public administration from Kansas State University. He has a bachelor’s degree in history/political science from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Benoit and his wife Micki, a speech therapist, have a son, Garrett, 14, and a daughter Madie, 17.
His hobbies are watching his kids play sports, fishing and exercise.
“I’m a big Denver Broncos fan,” he said.