The debate over employee rate hikes comes amid the unveiling last month of a compensation and classification study done for the city at a cost of around $8,000.
The Evergreen Solutions LLC salary survey compared city salaries with 11 market peers, including Eastpoint, Franklin County, Port St. Joe, Panama City, Bunnell, Callaway, Crawfordville, Defuniak Spring, Dunellon, Flagler Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Navarre Beach, Freeport, Indialantic, Melbourne Beach, Mexico Beach, Ocean City, Springfield, St. Augustine, Tarpon Springs and Valparaiso.
The authors said they worked to factor cost-of-living adjustments into the calculations.
“The results show that Apalachicola’s overall market position at the midpoint of the survey is 16.5% below the market average,” the authors wrote.
Evergreen recommended that the city adopt an adjusted compensation plan with consistent range gaps and progression between ranks, then assign positions to compensation levels based on internal equity and the results of the market research,
“Some positions will see larger adjustments than others due to market response,” the study notes.
The study presented three implementation options. The first would bring employees who are below the minimum of their recommended pay scale up to that minimum, with no further adjustment.
The second, known as job parity, would take into account the length of the employee’s seniority with the city. A third option, hybrid parity, would realign employees in their pay scale based on their years in their current classification as well as their years in other classifications.
Chief Financial Officer Mark Gerspacher said he also added a cost-of-living increase, typically in the range of $1,000 to $2,400, for employees who didn’t see their pay increase based on minimum parity or seniority.
If adopted, increases to the minimum of their respective salary scales, and seniority parity, would lead to significant increases for several employees.
City manager Travis Wade would be in line for a raise of around $11,700 from his current salary of $68,300 based on the minimum wage range, and that would be coupled with an Occupancy Parity increase of around 3 $300, for a total salary including benefits of approximately $126,700.
Police Chief Bobby Varnes could see his salary of about $61,000 receive a minimum wage increase of about $7,700, with additional seniority parity of $26,000, for a total salary of more than 139 $000.
Building manager Tammy Owens could see a salary increase of $80,000 to around $82,000, for a total salary including benefits of around $112,5000. Gerspacher could see his salary drop from $65,000 a year to around $69,000, for a total salary of around $106,500.
This is. Chet Turner and Timmy Davis could see their annual salaries of around $44,000 increase significantly, based on minimum wage increases of $4,500, plus additions of around $13,700 and $10,900 in salary increases. seniority parity, respectively. Each would have a salary and benefits of around $90,000 and more.
Other officers would receive lesser increases in minimum wage and occupational parity, with all officers earning at least $67,000 in total salary and benefits.
In the Public Works Department, the biggest factor in salary increases would be based on job parity, with Superintendent Greg Harris entitled to nearly $18,000 more to his current annual salary of about $48,000. , for a total of approximately $91,400.
Robert Chancey, the inmate team overseer, could get around $13,300 more depending on his seniority, with his annual salary rising from $34,400 to $47,700, which totals around $71,000 with benefits. .
These proposals for salary increases have drawn strong criticism audience members, likely sparked by a widely circulated Aug. 15 email from Leo Bebeau, the city’s former chief financial officer, who criticized the salary increases as well as other aspects of the proposed budget.
Public comment began with the release of a sheet by retired Navy scientist Rob Zingarelli that compared the proposed salaries to those of military officers and scientists.
“After 30 years, a senior scientist earns well under $125,000,” he said. “At the highest level, the salary offered is well above what a nuclear sub-commander earns. We are in the general one-star range. They seem quite high (compared to) federal pay levels.
Ash made it clear from the start that the workshop and its evaluation of the Evergreen study were not a done deal.
“It’s a workshop and there’s nothing set in stone,” she said. “This is a draft; we follow the process. It’s not the final. »
Apalachicola resident Diane Brewer, a retired South Florida banker, said in 43 years in the private sector. “I have never seen a salary increase of more than 5%.
“Now is not the time, in a major economic downturn where people are struggling, to be considering increases of an unbelievably (high) amount, even when they deserve it,” she said. “I ask you to seriously consider a major overhaul of this part of the budget.”
Apalachicola resident Pete Whitesell said that with $240,000 offered for vehicles, $169,000 for employee raises and $100,000 for the Tallahassee lobbyist, “it’s more than half a million dollars of discretionary spending”.
He said that when budget requests have been made by citizens in the past, “the response is always ‘We don’t have enough money for this.
“One solution is to hire an additional municipal employee to reduce the workload,” Whitesell said. “How about giving increases, but spread over several years or linked to performance objectives?
Apalachicola resident Tom Edwards said he could understand a 10% increase in the cost of living, but criticized some of Evergreen’s reasoning in calculating salary increases.
“An increase of the magnitude you’re talking about, I personally think is unconscionable,” he said. “I can understand pay raises, and performance-based ones, but I can’t understand the magnitude (of those). The little people don’t get raises; I highly recommend you consider a raise cost of living for the little guys.
City Manager Travis Wade took issue with Bebeau’s email, describing it as “full of misinformation.” He noted that city commissioners voted to conduct the salary study and that Evergreen’s comparisons showed that Apalachicola’s salaries were lower than comparably sized cities.
“Go see what the Port St. Joe city manager or Tallahassee public works chief is doing,” Wade said. “Don’t believe everything you read; don’t believe that.
Commissioner Antia Grove said the study was “the right thing to do. It was professional advice from an outside company that gave us the parameters.
“Our decisions are not made,” she said. “The letter is inflammatory and did not characterize her in the right light.”
Commissioner Despina George said she would have preferred the commission’s review to take place at a different time from the current budget deliberations. “It is now a question of budget and not of merit of the study,” she said.