Final two: Thursday is decision day to choose new Jupiter town manager

Updated Nov 13, 2017
Traffic on Indiantown Road is a top concern among local residents (File photo)

After starting with about 60 applicants from around the nation, the Jupiter town council is scheduled to select a new town manager on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center.

The two finalists are:

- Matt Benoit, city manager, Huntsville, Texas.

- David Buckingham, city manager, Morro Bay, Calif.

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Many Jupiter residents may be wondering, what does a town manager do?

According to the ad placed by Keller, Texas-based Strategic Government Resources to find candidates, the manager “prepares a recommended budget, recruits, hires, and manages the municipal government staff and advises the council.”

SEE: Original list of Jupiter Town Manager candidates

In Jupiter’s case, that would mean the new manager would be in charge of a $90 million annual budget with about 380 employees. The manager makes the final decision on firing town employees, including police officers.

SGR was a big cheerleader for Jupiter in the ad the company placed for the job. The chamber of commerce couldn’t have done any better:

“Pristine beaches, unmatched recreational offerings, stunning scenic vistas, a high quality of life, and access to world-class amenities are just a few of the reasons roughly 60,000 people are proud to call Jupiter home. The Town of Jupiter has come a long way from its early days as a pioneer village for fishermen and animal trappers during the turn of the 20th century,” read the ad.

The ad also noted the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Florida Atlantic University, beaches, Roger Dean Stadium, Harbourside Place, Riverbend Park, Scripps Research Institute and the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, “The red brick lighthouse (that) stands 105 feet in the sky.”

SGR was paid $18,500 to find applicants. Additional expenses are not to exceed $8,500, according to the agreement with the town.

Former Town Manager Andy Lukasik, 47, who was paid about $180,000 annually, left March 18 to be village manager in North Palm Beach. Lukasik was in the Jupiter position since 2004.

The new manager can expect some immediate challenges, such as:

- Whether to spend up to $36 million for a new town hall/police complex, reducing traffic on Indiantown Road and how to handle waterfront development.

READ: Pricey condos planned near Harbourside Place

- Determining what construction method to use for the new $120 million U.S. 1 bridge over the Loxahatchee River, just north of the Burt Reynolds bridge. Arguments are brewing on what is a better idea: Keep the bridge open to traffic and finish the job in about four years, or close the bridge for about a year and finish the job in about three years. Business people, locals, boaters and residents all are expected to register their ideas.

About 21,000 motorized vehicles daily go over the draw bridge, built in 1958. The new bridge is expected to last 75 years, according to county records. Construction is planned to start in July 2021.

- How to handle increasing traffic in Indiantown Road. Plans are under consideration to spend $2 million to add sidewalks and bicycle lanes to Indiantown Road east of U.S. 1.

- What to do with the two acres of vacant Daniels Way property next to the Jupiter Community Center recently bought by the town for $3 million.

Preliminary plans call for building a roundabout on the parcel on Indiantown Road at Daniels Way. Using the land for recreation and municipal services is another consideration.

- Development of two large parcels on Indiantown Road.