The Lady Lake Commission has sealed a deal with its new town manager.
William Lawrence, city manager in Bowling Green, Fla., inked a contract Monday night with the commission. He has agreed to a $120,000 annual salary and will relocate to within a 30-mile radius of Lady Lake. He will be under contract for two years.
Commissioner Paul Hannan added a bit of drama to the situation Monday when he pointed out that Lawrence was the third choice last month in the commission’s original ranking of the five finalists. Hannan said he misunderstood during a special meeting Feb. 18 and thought that the commisssion had agreed to offer the job to the second-ranked candidate. Hannan pointed out that Lawrence would be making a lucrative leap from the $73,000 annual salary he is currently earning in Bowling Green to the $120,000 he will earn as Lady Lake’s town manager.
Lawrence earned a degree in criminal justice from the University of Maine and spent several years in law enforcement. In 2014, he made the jump to town manager of White Springs in Florida. That decision was fueled in part by a sick father in Florida. In 2015, the town of Howland, Maine reached out to Lawrence. His house in Maine wasn’t selling and his father had passed away so he made the move back to the Pine Tree State. In 2016, he became the town manager for Warren, Maine and in 2019 made the move back to Florida when he was named city manager in Bowling Green.
Thad Carroll, head of the town’s growth management department, has been serving as interim town manager. Mayor Ruth Kussard wanted to move Carroll into the top job, but fellow commissioners said they wanted “new blood.”
In December 2019, Town Manager Kris 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.
Earlier this month, the commission made an offer to Kenneth City Town Manager Matthew Campbell. Negotiations with Campbell hit rough waters when he asked for perks like bringing his dog to work, flex time and continuing to live in Wesley Chapel. Campbell later withdrew from consideration.