Naples City Council approved the employment contract agreement Monday for Naples’ new city manager: Jay Boodheshwar, who is leaving his post as deputy town manager of Palm Beach on Florida’s east coast. Boodheshwar’s full-time duties in Naples will begin May 2 and he will receive an annual base salary of $270,000.
City Council unanimously voted March 23 to authorize Mayor Teresa Heitmann to negotiate with Boodheshwar on the city manager contract. At that meeting, Heitmann echoed the thoughts of other councilmembers in saying that Boodheshwar is a perfect fit for the city.
“When you look at maintaining high-performing government and extraordinary quality of life for our residents, having a motto of ethics above all and his comments of building a team and working with the staff were his priorities, I think he fits Naples perfectly,” Heitmann said.
In September, City Council selected executive search firm Ralph Andersen & Associates Inc. to complete the search for the city manager position. The California-based firm began the 45-day search process on Jan. 3.
Naples’ previous city manager, Charles Chapman, resigned last May during a heated council meeting. City Council then voted unanimously to name Deputy City Manager Dana Souza as interim city manager. But, the city of Sanibel hired Souza to be its permanent city manager, effective last November. Naples City Council then unanimously selected Fire Chief Pete DiMaria to be interim city manager, effective Nov. 6. DiMaria will continue serving in that role until Boodheshwar arrives next month.
Councilmember Ted Blankenship believes Boodheshwar’s broad knowledge and use of technology are noteworthy. “He just seems like he would be a really good fit for what we need right now,” Blankenship said.
Beth Petrunoff said she thinks Boodheshwar will know how to accomplish city goals, even on the state level. “He seems to have a lot of connections to get big things done,” she said.
Councilmember Paul Perry feels Boodheshwar is the right person in the right place at the right time. “His life story is just phenomenal,” Perry said. “You’ll learn more about that over time, but it’s an amazing story.”
Boodheshwar began his Palm Beach tenure as director of recreation in 2006, was promoted to director of recreation and special projects in 2010 and then deputy town manager in January 2015. Prior to his service with Palm Beach government, Boodheshwar served in various leadership roles for the city of Massillon, Ohio, as well as the cities of East Chicago, Bloomington and Munster, all in Indiana. He grew up in Cleveland and earned a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation administration from Bowling Green State University and his master’s degree in public administration from Florida Atlantic University.
In addition to his salary, the city has agreed to pay directly or reimburse Boodheshwar up to $12,000 for the actual and reasonable expense of moving to the city. The city also will pay him a residency housing allowance of $1,500 per month and he will have use of a city-owned vehicle, cellular phone and credit card at no expense to him, his contract shows. Effective June 1, personal plans for medical, dental, vision, life insurance and disability insurance will be available and he will be credited 30 personal leave days upon start of employment, plus he will accrue 30 days per year. “The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council, and nothing herein shall be taken to imply or suggest a guaranteed tenure,” according to the agreement.
The unanimous decision on the city manager selection surprised even the mayor and council, which have not always been in agreement. “Maybe we’re starting a trend here,” Boodheshwar said. “They are a good group of people. I’m very excited about this.”
He and his wife look forward to finding a new home in the city. “I will probably get some temporary housing to give myself some time,” he said about relocating to Naples. “We refer to it as Palm Beach west coast.”