Thursday, February 25, 2021
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The Villages

Lady Lake to extend offer to backup candidate in town manager search

Lady Lake commissioners have voted 3-2 to extend an offer to a the city manager of Bowling Green, Fla. to become the next town manager.

William Lawrence

William Lawrence was among the final group of candidates recently interviewed by the commissioners, who earlier this month chose Kenneth City Town Manager Matthew Campbell. Negotiations with Campbell hit rough waters when he asked for perks like bringing his dog to work and flex time. Campbell withdrew from consideration last week.

In a special meeting Thursday afternoon, commissioners regrouped to consider their options to replace former Town Manager Kris Kollgaard.

Lawrence’s resume indicates that he has 33 years of experience working in municipal government, serving as a police officer, police supervisor, police chief and nine years as a city manager. He has been town manager of Bowling Green, population 2,893, since April 2019.

Lawrence is currently earning $73,000 per year. Lady Lake is offering an annual salary of $120,000.

The Lady Lake town attorney has been directed to negotiate a deal with Lawrence.

Thursday’s meeting turned contentious after Mayor Ruth Kussard suggested interviewing interim Town Manager Thad Carroll for the job. Carroll is the director of growth management and has served for four months as interim town manager.

However, Commissioner Tony Holden said the town needs new blood.

“I am not for any more Kollgaard deals. We got hosed on that,” Holden said.

In December 2019, Kollgaard asked then-Police Chief Chris McKinstry for his resignation and it soured her relationship with some of the commissioners. She had worked a deal to combine the town clerk and town manager jobs for an annual salary of $140,967 and that was another point of contention. When Kollgaard left she walked out the door with $54,216 in severance pay. The former police chief filed a lawsuit claiming age discrimination. The lawsuit against the town is still pending.

Holden claimed Kollgaard promoted a “family” atmosphere and said that during a “walk through,” he has found employees sleeping on the job.

“I have found these sleeping people, too,” said Commissioner Dan Vincent.

After dusting off the candidates put forth by the town’s $26,500 executive search consultant, Commissioners Holden, Vincent and James Rietz voted to move forward with an offer to Lawrence.

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