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BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON HONORS FOR THE HIGH ECHELON — From left, Volusia County Attorney Michael Dyer and County Manager George Recktenwald listen as their bosses, the seven-member County Council, praise them for their work over the past year. The Council credited Recktenwald and Dyer for guiding and operating the county government through another difficult year affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Council unanimously agreed to give a 4-percent pay raise to Dyer and Recktenwald, whose salaries are the highest in the county hierarchy.

In what has become a pre-holiday tradition, the Volusia County Council Dec. 14 treated the county manager and the county attorney to generous helpings of pleasant words and Christmas cash.

The rewards come in conjunction with the Council’s evaluations of the only two county employees the elected body hires — and, if they wish — replaces. 

“It’s a little unusual, because when someone’s evaluated, it’s in the privacy of an office … but this is done in the sunshine,” County Chair Jeff Brower said, as he opened the process of grading the work of County Manager George Recktenwald and County Attorney Michael Dyer.

Council members poured forth praise as from pitchers. While there were a few concerns voiced about not being kept up to date on all things that may be related to their work, the positives outweighed any negatives.

“I’ve been proud of how you have helped us respond to that [pandemic],” Council Member Barb Girtman told Recktenwald and Dyer. 

“I’d like to see more followup to discussions,” she added. “I’m going to hold you accountable to make sure that that happens. … You know that I appreciate both of you and all your hard work.”

Vice Chair Billie Wheeler credited Recktenwald for improving the county’s relationship with the cities.

“I get a lot of accolades from the cities,” she told the county manager. “George, that says a lot about you.”

Wheeler also commended Recktenwald for “surrounding yourself with quality people.”

Council Member Ben Johnson spoke in similar terms.

“You’re open-minded. You have put together a fantastic staff … the best I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Johnson likewise lauded Dyer.

“You have done a great job putting together a staff of attorneys … that are competent, courteous, smart, and they get the job done,” he added.

“It’s just amazing what the county staff does,” Council Member Fred Lowry said.

Council Member Heather Post joined the chorus of support for the two-man leadership team.

“Overall, I really enjoy working with you,” she said. “Overall, I really think you’re great for the county. I like the direction we’re headed.”

“It’s an above-average performance,” Council Member Danny Robins said of the pair.

Robins, however, went on to urge Recktenwald and Dyer to “get more involved in social media.”

“We have to get out the facts and the truth,” he added.

Brower rounded out the career reviews.

“I was an executive recruiter for six years,” he began. 

Brower echoed prior comments about how Recktenwald’s surrounding himself with capable senior staffers is “a sign of good leadership.” “I do know you’re a man of integrity and hard work. … You run the equivalent of a Fortune 500 company here.”

“You both work really hard,” Brower said, including Dyer in his evaluation.

When the time came for the County Council to decide how to reward its highest administrative officers, the panel settled on pay raises of 4 percent for each of them. The percentage is equal to that given to all other lower-ranking county workers.

Recktenwald’s annual pay now becomes $237,217, while Dyer will receive $221,738. The pay raises are retroactive to Oct. 2.

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