NORTH PORT – North Port City lawyer Amber Slayton received praise, along with a 7% increase, from the North Port City Commission in its annual assessment on Tuesday.
“I can’t say enough how honored it is to serve the city in this capacity,” Slayton said before receiving feedback from the five board members, then added that she was proud of the work. accomplished by the city’s team of lawyers.
Slayton ranked almost halfway between very effective and outstanding on the evaluation forms completed by the city commission, with an overall average score of 4.43 out of 5.
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North Port Mayor Jill Luke was quick to praise Slayton for overcoming a variety of legal issues, from the investigation of former City Manager Peter Lear to the legal response to a group’s petition residents for the de-annexation of land west of the Myakka River, which would narrow the city limits to the riverside.
“We’ve been through so many crises, so much has happened and some of it is still pending,” Luke said. “Who you are has seen us through all these dark clouds. ”
Slayton has even been part of the city’s negotiating team for the contract signed by new city manager Jerome Fletcher, which will begin on October 1.
City Commissioner Debbie McDowell, usually a harsh rater in evaluations, gave Slayton outstanding marks in all categories except interaction with the City Manager. McDowell’s only comment on it noted the fact that, over the past year, Slayton has worked opposite Acting City Manager Jason Yarborough.
“I appreciate that everyone stays respectful in their roles,” wrote McDowell, who actually gave Slayton his highest rating, with an average of 4.86.
“It’s much better to be able to sit here and do an annual public eye review when it’s so positive,” McDowell said. “Like I said in my review, I wish we could clone you and I take that as an absolute compliment.”
Slayton was harder on herself than the jury as a whole, giving herself an average self-rating of 4.29.
City Commissioner Barbara Langdon was the toughest individual grader. Slayton got an average rating of 4.14, which was reduced by receiving a 3 – or competent – rating from Langdon, but this was supplemented with praise in his written assessment.
Langdon noted that she established a positive relationship with Slayton in her written assessment and praised the lawyer on Tuesday for the way she explains the legal details in easy-to-understand language.
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McDowell, who said he researched the median salaries of city lawyers in neighboring communities as well as in larger towns and counties, brought forward a motion to grant Slayton a 7% increase on his current salary of $ 163,000 per year, which would bring it to $ 174,410. – which would cost about $ 2,500 less than what the neighboring town of Cape Coral pays its town attorney.
Slayton, who was hired in 2017, received a 5% raise last year and a 4% raise the year before.
Deputy Mayor Pete Emrich said he had looked at a 5% increase, which was historically the highest percentage granted.
“I was leaning towards that 5% because it is so close to perfect,” he said.
In an effort to seek unanimity on the increase, Luke approached a 6% compromise but Emrich countered that he had no problem giving Slayton a 7% increase either.
McDowell said she only offered the additional 2% after checking what Slayton’s counterparts were earning.
“She’s proven her weight in gold and the last thing I want to do is find another lawyer in town,” McDowell said. “This is what we have, we have gold.”
Slayton was grateful for both the raise and the praise.
“I certainly appreciate the increase in salary,” she said. “But your words touch me.”
Earle Kimel primarily covers southern Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be contacted at [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.