Vero Beach Council to discuss replacing Gabbard

VERO BEACH — With strong arguments for starting the search now or waiting for a new City Council to be ushered in come November, the City of Vero Beach must decide what it wants to do about the position being vacated by City Manager Jim Gabbard.

That is the sole topic of a special Vero Beach City Council meeting to be held at 9:30 a.m. today. Councilman Ken Daige requested that Mayor Kevin Sawnick call the meeting because he thinks the council needs to have a replacement in place when Gabbard leaves on October 15 — so the city doesn’t miss a beat.

Should the city determine that it cannot handle a search in-house, hiring a search firm could cost about $21,000.

One person who is opposed to finding a replacement quickly is Councilman Brian Heady.

Heady has said publicly that he believes the city will be just fine if one of the department heads steps in as Interim City Manager for a few months until the new council can decide what type of person it wants to fill the important role.

The Vero Beach City Council could potentially have four new members in November if voters oust all the incumbents up for re-election. Those incumbents include Mayor Sawnick, Vice Mayor Sabe Abell, and councilmen Tom White and Ken Daige.

“If they left that seat empty, I think the city could do just fine for a while,” Heady said shortly after Gabbard announced his retirement last month.

Heady has also suggested that leaving the position open for a period of time would also save the city some money.

Gabbard’s current salary is about $136,000 per year plus benefits, which breaks down to about $11,500 per month just for salary. Gabbard leaves with no golden parachute, but he will retire with three government pensions — two from his career in law enforcement and one for his time as City Manager.

The City Council meets in chambers at the Vero Beach City Hall. Whether public input will be allowed was not immediately known.

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