Mayor and deputy mayor question Chris Chinault's performance
By Chris Fish
INDIALANTIC - During last month's town council meeting, the mayor and deputy mayor said they are dissatisfied with a recent hire made by the town manager, and it may cost him his job.
Deputy Mayor Loren Goldfarb said Chris Chinault, Indialantic's town manager since 2000, hired an under-trained employee for a dispatch position. Records show the position receives $38,000 a year, with the salary range being between $28,482 and $44,223 a year.
"We had a hiring freeze, and any new hiring had to go to us (before it could be approved)," Mr. Goldfarb said. "(Mr. Chinault) came to us wanting to fill a dispatch position, and we told him to move forward. The person he hired made the upper portion of the salary range possible, and she didn't have any training. We had to then pay for her training."
Mr. Goldfarb said he feels Mr. Chinault failed to utilize every available option while searching for a new employee for the dispatch position.
"I asked why we had to hire this person and pay them what we are, and (Mr. Chinault) told me we didn't have a choice, that she was the only one qualified," he said. "They didn't advertise the position. All he did was put it in Florida Today and on the (town council) website. That is the bare minimum that it takes to find someone."
While Mr. Goldfarb said he is dissatisfied with Mr. Chinault's job performance, he said Mayor Dave Berkman has stronger concerns.
"The mayor has had more issues than anyone. They've really butted heads over the last few months," Mr. Goldfarb said. "I don't have as many issues. I have the overall concern of 'government think'. Instead of being creative, they go back to the basics of what we know. In the private sector, we don't stop until we find what we need. Governments check something off and move on (without much effort)."
The mayor declined to comment his concerns with Mr. Chinault.
During last month's town council meeting in which Mr. Chinault's employment was discussed, Councilwoman Jill Hoffman said she wants more input from the residents before acting on a termination process.
As a compromise, the town council ultimately decided to solicit anonymous feedback from town employees. They will review a draft of the survey being sent to town employees at next month's meeting.
In the meeting, Mr. Goldfarb said he doesn't necessarily want to terminate Mr. Chinault, but the possibility of a younger person with creative ideas is alluring, as opposed to the current town manager, who he feels has older ideas that are not working.
"If there is a 33-year-old hotshot that has been doing this for five years and they have a lot of new ideas, that is enticing," he said.
In an email response, Mr. Chinualt refused to comment further than what he said during the meeting.
"You've talked about young, so I have age discrimination," he said during the council meeting. "Since I started in March of 2000, you have all had the opportunity to have a new town manager if you desired."
Despite the criticism surrounding his job performance and the accusations made during the council meeting that he fails to have fresh and creative ideas, Mr. Chinault said he wants only what is best for residents of the town.
"I'm not a 33 or a 35-year-old whippersnapper," he said. "However you guys want to handle it. Whatever you think is best for the community, (I will do)."