Monday, March 10, 2014

City Manager Salary Revisited

For some reason, the Sun has been getting a bit more traffic and commenting activity than usual lately. There is one particular comment that I have seen come up repeatedly in various flavors, so I wanted to take a moment to consider it and respond. On the recent article "Who is Doug Guetzloe," one commenter states (with regard to our city manager's $150,000+ salary):

"Everyone seems to forget that the city manager worked for two years free....that is about $50,000.00 a year. I even heard one of those running say that is the only reason they have no problem with his salary. Looks like some people aren't getting all the facts about the candidates."

I have heard this argument many times from Mayor Brooks and other Belle Isle city officials, but I respectfully disagree.

Free is free. When TruGreen offered my first lawn service for free, does that mean I should have expected to be double-billed next time to compensate them for the initial "free" service?

And if we really are compensating Mr. Severns for the time he offered to serve for "free," which he did only to prevent violation of our City Charter, then aren't we really compensating him with back pay in violation of the City Charter?

Furthermore, the above calculations assume that Mr. Severns $150,000+ salary will only last for one year, even though there is no such provision in his contract. If this is really back pay for the time Mr. Severns served for "free," then shouldn't his present pay level be only temporary? Isn't it about time we visit the issue of concluding his back pay and reducing his salary to a reasonable level for a city of our size?

And none of this takes into account the money Mr. Severns earned from the no-bid contracts awarded to his construction company, KNS Construction, for work at Cornerstone prior to the opening of the school (as disclosed by Mr. Spaulding at the recent candidate forum).


Still have any questions regarding the reasonableness of our city manager salary in Belle Isle? Check the below data regarding city manager salaries for cities of our size around Florida (researched, compiled and presented to the Belle Isle City Council by Sue Nielsen in May 2013):

CityPopulationSalaryEducationExperience
Treasure Island7500$105,046Bachelor's Degree10 years
Clewiston6357$85,000Bachelor's Degree3-4 years
Dade City6133$75,000Bachelor's Degree10 years
Fellsmere5108$115,000Bachelor's Degree5-7 years
High Springs5350$55,000Bachelor's Degree10 years
Live Oak6480$65,000Bachelor's Degree10 years
Newberry4950$86,112Master's Degree10 years
Sanibel6374$105,046Bachelor's Degree10 years
St. Augustine Beach6241$106,587Bachelor's Degree5-7 years
Surfside5800$18,000Bachelor's Degree10 years

                            Average salary = $81,579

17 comments:

  1. Who actually wrote the contract; do we know; Was it the Mayor? I wonder if the commissioners who approved the contract actually read it.

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  2. O Jeremy you treading water as that ship sinks?? In reference to Mr. Severns. What were the costs of the work? Were the bids with in he local average??Did you check to see if Mr Severns even made a profit??How much did the city save by not having to go through the bidding process??? Seems you left a few things out. I will quit there because the rest of your poorly penned blog is more Hog Wash from the mouths of babes..P.S. Why can't you defend yourself on the Social Media blogs instead of sending mommy?????

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    1. If you have access to any of that data, I'd be happy to publish it. I requested public records regarding City bids and contracts back on April 24, 2013 and never received any response despite multiple reminders to City Hall. I didn't even learn that KNS Construction had received no-bid contracts at Cornerstone until Mr. Spaulding admitted it in response to a direct question at the candidate forum.

      With regard to your comment about my mother, that seems a bit out of line. I personally don't go on Facebook, but she has as much right to discuss these issues as anyone else.

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    2. it is not a matter of how much we MIGHT have saved. Everything this city has should be presented for bids.

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    3. Exactly. We need to keep a closer eye on such behavior and lack of integrity on behave of our elected officials and as well as those appointed by crony friends.
      We need to keep all our expenditures low as possible, including salaries.

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  3. How can anyone justify such actions, in this day and age, when the job market has been poor, companies are downsizing, salaries are cut while responsibilities are added? Has anyone ever heard of such action elsewhere or worked for any such company that is still in existence and thriving? It is ridiculous to be given such a salary because he worked "free" for two years, or that he does the job of "several people." That is just plain wrong. What is disturbing is the fact that most of the City Council, apparently, doesn't see anything wrong with their decision. Are they blind? They need a reality check and I hope it is served tomorrow on election day!

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  4. Eric Spaulding reported in the Forum at the PCWC that he liked Mr. Severns because he "runs Belle Isle like a business." Mr. Spaulding has not convinced me that the CM salary is justified or the the CM is the most qualified person for the position. If our City and CM executed no bid contracts, then it either shows how little our CM, Mayor, and City Council know about our Charter and FL State Laws or how arrogant they were. Ignorance or arrogance? Are those the qualities we want leading us? What kind of successful businessman runs a business like that? Regardless of their intentions with the contracts, if true, it was still wrong. If someone broke the law by speeding, regardless of their intentions, would they be fined? If someone did not pay their taxes, regardless of their good intentions, would they be fined? Does the end justify the means?

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  5. Is there also a car allowance for that position?

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    1. Mr. Severns receives a $500 per month car allowance, health care, retirement benefits and the ability to the ability to remain on the City payroll for an additional six months after termination of his employment contract.

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  6. O Shadow…The Sun is shining! What difference does it make if Mr. Severns made a profit or not or if he saved money by avoiding the bidding process? We have already seen with the fire station debacle that money is not everything to all people. Even if we were able to save $ with our own fire stations and EMT service, people were not confident of the service. So, in that case, our lives were valued more than money. There are rules and regulations to follow...it's called the law. The laws are in place for a reason. Is Mr. Severns, our Mayor, or whoever agreed on cutting corners for those contracts somehow above the law? Pray tell.

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    1. There is no way to save money by not having a bidding process. When did the Mafia move to BI.

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  7. The one who made the comment about being ok with the salary is not currently a city commissioner. It is a newbie running. And it isn't Ms. Snaveley. Oh it is a beautiful day in Belle Isle

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  8. Mayor Brooks is a super salesmen and he used his gift to convince the council that his neighbor and long time friend is doing an unmatchable job. Six council members, including Eric Spaulding, bought it and Mr. Severns is now being paid way over his true market value. There was to be a formal performance review of Mr. Severns that would have arrived at a reasonable and competitive salary offer. The one commissioner who had insisted on this review was in the hospital at the time the Mayor decided to give his sales pitch. This slick maneuver successfully avoided the dreaded performance review process..

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  9. Mr. Keith needs his Severns-ance pay

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  10. He only worked for free because the PEOPLE spoke up and would NOT let the Mayor and the commissioners change the charter....yeah he's making up on that deal now.

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  11. I was so upset when Mr. Severns was selected CM especially after there were several meetings where the citizens spoke out against his appointment. The Mayor wanted to change the Charter to get his "buddy" in and that didn't work. His solution was to propose that Mr. Severns would work for no pay, thus avoiding legally how the charter read. When the Attorney was asked if this was legal, his response was "...well, there's nothing in the Charter that says you can't do this..." That's how we want Belle Isle to run? It's really sad to see how the City of Belle Isle has changed. The Mayor bullies people in order to get his way. Most recently, they fired the Attorney firm that worked with Belle Isle for 30-40 years in order to hire a friend of his from the Orlando Aviation Authority who has no experience with City government. I am totally disheartened as to how our City is being run. And to give our CM, who doesn't even have college degree, a $150,000 salary as well as medical, $500/month for car allowance, etc. makes me ill. I'm sorry for the long email; I could go on but I need to end this now.

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  12. I would hope after last night, there will be at least TWO commissioners who will speak up and ask the questions. The people have spoken.

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