Century Moves Forward With Hiring Vernon Prather As Interim City Manager

November 19, 2019

The Century Town Council voted Monday night to move forward with hiring consultant Vernon Prather as interim city manager. It’s a position that could cost the town over $100,000 per year.

The 4-1 vote authorizes Mayor Henry Hawkins and Prather to negotiate a one year employment contract to bring back to the council for final approval.

The council has budgeted $80,000 plus benefits for a city manager for a total cost that could surpass $100,000, according to current Interim City Manager Buz Eddy. But he noted Prather is not looking for a complete benefits such as insurance.

The lone vote against hiring Prather can from Councilman James Smith.

“We can barely afford anything, but we want to get a city manager who we have never had throughout the lifetime of Century,” Smith said. “How are we able to support that budget over $100,000 for one individual? Instead of getting a city manager, why don’t we make the mayor full time and make him do what he’s supposed to be doing, or her for that matter? I’ve been boggled by that for a while.”

“He (Prather) starts in gas, and now there is a recommendation for him to be city manager, but he just recently retired? That doesn’t sit well with me,” Smith continued.

“The problems that town has can be best addressed by someone like Mr. Prather,” Eddy said.

The town had only five applicants, including Prather, when the city manager job was advertised. Eddy said he believes there will more interest in the town manager position after the Century Charter Review Committee completes its work. The committee will consider making a charter change to officially establish a city manager position. Significant changes would require voter approval next year.

“We need to have that included in the charter before we can get a real live fulltime city manager,” Mayor Henry Hawkins said Monday night. “The reason we have so few applications is it is not concrete that the town will operate under a city manager form of government. The recommendation is because we are moving forward; we are making good strides with Mr. Buz and Mr. Prather.” The Century Charter Review Committee is currently reviewing possible changes that could include a city manager, but any changes will require voter approval.

Prather began working for the town on a consulting basis as part of a $35 an hour package deal when Eddy came on board in July. Prather served Gulf Breeze in various positions from 2006 to 2017, including director of public services, operations consultant and assistant city manager, while Eddy retired as Gulf Breeze city manager in 2017 after 25 years on the job.

Prather does not meet the requirement of a college degree that was advertised for the city manager position, but Eddy said his experience far outweighs classroom education. He does hold wastewater and water certifications in addition to years on the job.

Prather did not attend Monday night’s meeting. If the council approves an employment contract with Prather, Eddy will step down as interim city manager and perhaps continue with the town on a consulting basis.

To learn more about the five applicants for interim town manager, click here for an earlier story.

Pictured top: Council member James Smith (far right) expresses opposition to hiring Vernon Prather as interim city manager. Pictured inset: Prather. Pictured below: Current interim city manager Buz Eddy speaks in favor of Prather replacing him. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


22 Responses to “Century Moves Forward With Hiring Vernon Prather As Interim City Manager”

  1. Citizen on November 21st, 2019 12:23 am

    Yes M in Bratt

    He better resolve the billing discrepancy or get the staff to do otherwise. People may not know it but but as for me, my patience and understanding has reached its peak. I expect good things from here on out. I think they will deliver.

  2. Tim on November 21st, 2019 12:10 am

    How in the world do you hire someone without doing an interview and for $80,000???
    Take a look at the other 4 people who applied and tell me this guy would serve the town better???? The 4 who voted to do this need to be replaced because they are to incompetent to hold a position of public trust….or maybe they are just lazy…. either way the town gets screwed

  3. Citizen on November 20th, 2019 11:57 pm

    Yeah and fire the accountant that let them go 3 M in the hole by misappropriation of the gasoline tax.

    Yes we are paying attention. Hope the loan was paid back..

  4. M in Bratt on November 20th, 2019 6:20 pm

    If you are hiring for a position that you can’t afford, why not hire somebody that you know first hand can handle the job. I wonder if he will make any headway identifying and collecting from the 50% that are not paying for utilities? and will he be able to unveil the secret of how many sitting around the table were/are getting free utilities?

  5. Wayne on November 20th, 2019 9:11 am

    Terrible, I have a cousin with more than enough qualification who had just turned his resume / app in
    He went to MIT for 5 years…same as Hawkins….MIT (Mikes Instant Tuneup)

  6. Reg501 on November 19th, 2019 8:28 pm

    I worked with Mr. Prather at the city of Gulf Breeze for over 6 years and during those times he taught me a great deal about pumps, general operation of sewage treatment processes, water management as well as stormwater management. During his long career with the City, he was director of public services and later promoted to assistant city manager. Mr. Prather was instrumental during the April 2014 flood that engulfed the city of Gulf Breeze, coordinating rental pumps from all over the central southeast to drain the city. College degree…..bogus, Mr. Prather has the experience that any college degree could ever compare with. Citizens of Century, you should be blessed to have such an intelligent, trustworthy and experienced person to help make your city great.

  7. Elmer Fudd on November 19th, 2019 7:27 pm

    Can’t you be sued by the other applicants who met all the qualifications listed, only to be passed over for someone who doesn’t meet all the qualifications? Especially when the guy you’re going to hire talked you into hiring the guy who is telling you to hire him now? You hired Prather as consultant, who talked you into hiring Eddy, who now says you should hire Prather. The Town of Century should be a Reality TV show.

  8. Willis on November 19th, 2019 7:23 pm

    Well Mr. Prather, you can see what your up against in the public eye.
    If hired you might consider an interview with North Escambia. Maybe some information on the Gas Dept. losses, steps being taken to correct them.
    Some overview of where you will be trying improve the processes ?

    You can never make everyone happy but you could put some citizens at ease possibly with a little information. A small attempt at transparency.

  9. Piney Woods on November 19th, 2019 7:04 pm

    Is it too late to apply? Geezzzz…

  10. Bob on November 19th, 2019 4:04 pm

    Dear TOC,

    I would like to apply for the job of Interim City Manager.

    Here are my qualifications:

    1) My friends think that I would be “a great fit for this job”.
    2) I have a “proven ability to get things done on a shoestring budget”.
    3) I will do the right thing.
    4) I have a “ton of common sense”.
    5) I can “see the big picture”.
    6) I am a consumer of “water and wastewater systems and…gas as well”.
    7) I am not a good ole boy.
    8) I do not know anyone in Century.
    9) I have an MBA-that stands for Master of Business Administration.
    10) I will accept the position for $70,000.
    11) I hate corruption and incompetence.

  11. noah berry on November 19th, 2019 2:44 pm

    I would caution the city of Century about Buzz Eddy, Veron Prather, and city attorney
    Dannhessier . All of these men have held high positions in the City of Gulf Breeze. I have lived in Gulf Breeze for over thirty years and I have lost trust in all three of them . Back in late 2012 they purchased Tiger Point golf course to expand the yet to be built after 9 years a new wastewater treatment plant. The cost of that plant was to have been 10 million dollars. The price tag today is now 25 million.. This does not include losses of over ten million at the golf course over 9 years. These people will run loans thru the Gulf breeze Financial services and Capital trust agency where they or their friends will benefit while taxpayers get screwed over.

  12. DC on November 19th, 2019 11:34 am

    I have know Vernon for almost 25 years. I believe he is a great fit for this job. He has a proven ability to get things done on a shoestring budget, to do the right thing and he has a ton of common sense. He can see the big picture and he understands the details of water and wastewater systems and I imagine gas as well.

  13. Just a Nobody on November 19th, 2019 10:42 am

    The Town has no shame.

  14. Charlie on November 19th, 2019 10:29 am

    congratulations Vernon, Century is fortunate to have such a reputable and knowledgeable city manager.

  15. Reba on November 19th, 2019 9:11 am

    Two head clowns? Century just geting more and more crooked.

  16. Clay on November 19th, 2019 9:06 am

    If he has a one year contract, he’ll have 12 months in which to prove himself. I think it’s a viable temporary solution until the charter gets updated.

  17. Randy on November 19th, 2019 8:07 am

    I totally agree with citizen on this one. Mr. Prather may not have the paper degree, but he has 20 plus years of on the job training, that’s better than any paper degree you can get. Anybody can sit in a classroom and earn a degree now a days. The knowledge he has is much better. Plus he holds water & wastewater license, and knows gas.

  18. Oversight on November 19th, 2019 6:42 am

    Look at your options, Century. Then decide what to do. If you hire Buz’s buddy, then fire the mayor because you admit you don’t need him. Besides, there is no room for additional clowns in your tent.

  19. Chris on November 19th, 2019 6:33 am

    Same old song and dance

  20. Dave on November 19th, 2019 6:27 am

    Here we go again.

  21. IMHO on November 19th, 2019 6:18 am

    Well schazam! Didn’t see that coming.

  22. Citizen on November 19th, 2019 1:28 am

    OK I was wrong it wasn’t unanimous

    4-1 ain’t bad.
    Obviously Century needs the talent. I think they can do away with the gas superintendent position and maybe even a few of the office people and start fresh.

    I’m really happy the Mayor is on board also. That’s a wonderful sign.

    There really is a lot to know to run four utilities plus the municipality and the experience of Mr Prather is tantamount.

    Let the EPA and DEP and demonstrate what needs to happen with the WWTF.

    The Amendment #1 to the RESTORE at the county yesterday was a move forward.
    I saw Prather had been on the RESTORE committee and I believe he know the Gilley’s. Century is lucky to get him I think. Commissioner barry is paying attention also. It’s a good thing.

    I think it’s an answer to prayer, and a result of the long realistic hard look at things.

    I think the Grand Jury Report was good feed back to get them to come together and face the truth of the matter.

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