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Politics / Issues

Manatee County extends administrator's contract, despite complaints with performance

A county government building with American flag.
Manatee County Government
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The discussion of Scott Hopes' salary and contract followed concerns expressed by Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.

County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge called the County Clerk of Court's allegations "politically motivated."

After more than three hours of heated debate, a 4-3 majority of Manatee County Commissioners have voted to offer a contract extension to county administrator Scott Hopes.

The Tuesday vote came days after the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court Angelina Colonneso raised a number of concerns regarding Hopes' tenure, some of which she said have been referred to the state Inspector General.

Those issues, according to Colonneso, include fiscal accountability concerns, an alleged lack of communication, and high employee turnover.

A letter from Colonneso to Manatee County Commission chairman Kevin Van Osterbridge became public over the weekend.

At Tuesday's meeting, District 5 commissioner Vanessa Baugh said some of her fellow commissioners were unfairly holding up Hopes' extension.

"Stop the nonsense," she said. “Stop complaining, help the big wheel that we have of this county with almost 2,0000 employees move forward to serve our citizens. If not, then please don't run for reelection."

The matter prompted District 4 Commissioner Misty Servia to call for Hopes to be put on 30-day leave, pending an internal investigation.

"I think that we have to clear his name because right now, the public has lost trust,” she said. “We've got to rebuild the trust of this community and we do that by uncovering everything in transparency and to get answers to the very serious allegations that were bought forward."

The request to put Hopes on leave failed.

Colonneso was at Tuesday’s meeting, where she clarified that Hopes is not currently under investigation but that the issues she raised are part of a routine audit.

County commissioners ultimately voted to extend his contract by one year as opposed to two, with a salary of $215,000 per year.

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