breaking news

Severe thunderstorm warning for Palm Beach Gardens through Jupiter

From Texas to Jupiter: New town manager relishes a challenging job


Highlights

Benoit selected from 60 candidates as Jupiter town manager

New Jupiter town manager starts Feb. 21

Coming to coastal, affluent Jupiter from a smallish town in inland Texas — where there are no zoning laws, lighthouses or turquoise inlets to the ocean — is a welcome challenge, said the town’s new manager Matt Benoit.

“I’m taking this job with no pre-conceived notions. I’m going to show up, keep an open mind and listen,” said Benoit, 43, who is moving his family from Huntsville, Texas. His first day is Feb. 21.

The annual salary for Benoit is $215,000.

JUPITER READERS: Sign up for The Post’s weekly Jupiter newsletter here

Benoit is leaving his five-year position in Huntsville on good terms, said Mayor Andy Brauninger.

Benoit is “a detail guy with a strong personality,” said Brauninger.

Some Huntsville residents took that as a “bully attitude.” Brauniger did not.

“Matt’s not a backslapper. Sometimes, he pushes too hard. He might make a few enemies, but he will get the job done,” said Brauninger.

READ: Issues facing new Jupiter town manager

A native of Denver, Benoit’s first job as a city manager was when he was 23 in 2,500-resident Herington, Kansas. He has taken jobs since then in increasingly larger communities. He describes his management style as an intermediary between the council and the staff.

“I don’t get in the weeds. I let people do their jobs. Both the council and staff want to do good for the community. They sometimes see things from different angles. My job is to bring them together,” said Benoit.

Long-range planning is Benoit’s top asset, said Carol Smith, the executive director of the 525-member Huntsville/Walker County Chamber of Commerce in Texas. She said Benoit was a leader in the recent passage of a $128 million bond issue for infrastructure improvements.

“(Benoit) has been city manager in different communities with different rules. He adapts very well,” said Smith.

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. Jupiter’s is about $90 million. The average home value and the median income in Huntsville is about half as much as Jupiter.

Huntsville has about 280 municipal employees, about 100 less than Jupiter.

Another big difference between Jupiter and Huntsville is zoning laws.

Huntsville, like most of the rest of Texas, doesn’t have any. That means hotels, houses, factories and playgrounds all must learn to co-exist in the same neighborhoods. While homeowners associations have deed restrictions, Texas does not regulate what and where structures can be built.

Benoit said his experiences in other communities have prepared him to handle the switch.

“I speak both languages,” said Benoit.

Florida’s Sunshine laws, seen as among the most open in the nation, will not be an issue, said Benoit.

“Every e-mail, phone call and memo is open the the public here. I’m totally comfortable with it,” Benoit said.

A nationwide search to replace former Jupiter Town Manager Andy Lukasik — whose annual salary was about $180,000 — drew about 60 applicants from throughout the nation, including Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow.

List of original Jupiter Town Manager candidates

In addition to his salary, Benoit’s contract calls for annual 2.5 percent raises for the first four years. He has a monthly car allowance of $650, and a monthly cell phone allowance of $200. The town is paying moving expenses up to $20,000.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

NEW: Parent sues parent over Wellington boy’s dirt bike death
NEW: Parent sues parent over Wellington boy’s dirt bike death

The mother of a 13-year-old Wellington boy who died in a dirt bike accident last year has sued the mother of the motorcycle driver, who was the boy’s friend. Maria Gonzalez, mother of the late Jonathan Gonzalez, filed a negligence suit Monday in circuit court against Barbara Forbes, the mother of Jonathan’s friend Benjamin Forbes, demanding...
JUST IN: Longtime Boynton city critic wins $2 million in Powerball game
JUST IN: Longtime Boynton city critic wins $2 million in Powerball game

For years, David Floering fought with the city of Boynton Beach over a lost towing contract and sparred with then-Mayor Jose Rodriguez so vociferously that the mayor sued him for libel. That might have been the last thing on his mind last week when he won $2 million in a Florida Lottery game.  Floering, 57, bought the ticket for...
She asked The Rock to the prom. His response amazed her
She asked The Rock to the prom. His response amazed her

An awesome high school senior invited Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to her senior prom by posting a video of herself in an outfit paying homage to The Rock’s famously dorky 80s look and showcasing her superb collection of Rock gear. “Will you ‘Rock’ it at prom with me?” Katie Kelzenberg asked. Check it...
Forest Hill valedictorian thrives by giving back to her community
Forest Hill valedictorian thrives by giving back to her community

It’s not a stretch to say Natalie Gonzalez’s heart is bigger than her mind — figuratively speaking, of course, because her wealth of knowledge is quite impressive, as this year’s valedictorian of Forest Hill High School. Gonzalez, 18, of West Palm Beach, dedicates most of her time outside the classroom to making sure others...
New software to help Jupiter police during critical incidents
New software to help Jupiter police during critical incidents

The Jupiter Town Council has approved Police Chief Frank Kitzerow’s request for about $34,000 from federal forfeiture funds for a five-year subscription to a management software that helps control, direct and organize multiple agencies or departments during critical incidents, such as an active shooter. The council unanimously approved the money...
More Stories