Nearly a year after Pensacola voters approved an amendment to the city charter allowing the City Council to hire its own staff, Council members are poised to hire Donald Kraher as its new council executive. Kraher’s proposed contract, which the Council could approve at a special meeting next Wednesday, includes an annual salary of $100,000 — the same salary as Mayor Ashton Hayward.
As council executive, Kraher would oversee the Office of the City Council. The City’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which the City Council will also consider next Wednesday, would increase the amount budgeted for City Council staff salaries from $259,100 to $409,400 — an increase of 58%. Last year’s charter amendment provides the City Council with the authority to hire staff as needed, but specifically authorizes a council executive, legal aide, budget analyst, and executive assistant.
Armed with a masters in human resource management and a juris doctorate, Kraher has served for the past 2 years as the assistant city manager at the city of De Soto, Missouri, a municipality of 6,400. Kraher previously served nearly 30 years in law enforcement, including as Chief of Police for both the city of Edmundson and De Soto, Mo.
The hiring of a council executive come more than a year after Mayor Ashton Hayward fired former Council Executive Lila Cox. Mayor Hayward then later appointed Assistant City Attorney Rusty Wells as a liaison to the council, which upset some council members and spurred the amendment to give city council authority to hire its own staff.
Council members interviewed three candidates for the executive position two weeks ago before voting to offer the job to Kraher. Mayor Hayward has opposed giving the city council authority to hire its own staff and has said publicly that it adds a redundant layer of bureaucracy.
Special Pensacola City Council Meeting
Wednesday, September 9
Immediately Following Public Hearing on Proposed FY2016 Budget (5:15 PM)
Pensacola City Hall
Council Chambers, First Floor
222 West Main Street
Pensacola, FL 32502