New town manager’s contract ruffles some Jupiter residents

Updated Dec 20, 2017
Matt Benoit

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.

The terms of the contract did not sit well with some residents.

“This is a tough pill to swallow for teachers and police officers,” said Indian Creek resident Ben Klug, referring to the guaranteed raises. “It’s a privilege to come to Jupiter.”

Matt Benoit’s annual salary is $215,000, according to the unanimous vote Tuesday night by the council, which is a $51,000 raise from his current base pay of $164,000. 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, who was previously the city manager in Huntsville, Texas.

“(Benoit) is a top-shelf town manager. Anybody would be lucky to have him,” Wodraska said.

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.

Jupiter resident Cheryl Schneider said Benoit’s raises should be based on job performance.

“The contract is too open-ended. The town manager is wholly unaccountable to the public,” she said.

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 $90 million. Huntsville has about 280 employees, about 100fewer than Jupiter.

Also Tuesday night:

Luxury waterfront condos — the second such development this month — won approval and will be built on the Intracoastal Waterway just south of Indiantown Road.

Cornerstone will be 15 units in a five-story building.

Starting price will be about $800,0oo, according to Richard Witham, the registered agent of Jupiter Investments, the developers of the site.

The condominiums will vary is size between 2,000-4,000 square feet. A pool is planned on the roof. A public dock for about 14 small boats and kayak launch are planned for the development on the other side of Indiantown Road from Harbourside Place.

Cornerstone will have about half the number of units as Inlet Waters, a 33-unit complex that was approved by the council on Dec. 5.

“This is not going to be like Harbourside. It’s smaller, less traffic, more landscaping,” Vice Mayor Wayne Posner said.

Profile Art Gallery will be demolished to build Cornerstone, which would be finished in about two years, Witham said.

Inlet Waters, which will have 33 units, will be seven two-story buildings along with private docking for five boats. Two buildings would be on the Jupiter River and two fronting A1A. A pool and the other three buildings would be in the center of the property. Entry/exit will be from A1A.

Prices at Inlet Waters, which is walking distance to DuBois Park, are expected to start at about $700,000.