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As Flagler Beach Asks for Hand-Outs, A Commissioner Asks for Employee Raises

| December 13, 2012

Flagler Beach Commissioner Marshall Shupe made an impassioned case for a one-time employee bonus or a 2 percent raise Thursday evening, but a majority of his colleagues rebuffed the proposal, citing timing. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach City Manager Bruce Campbell reported that the city is on pace to end the year with at least $200,000 more in its coffers than it had planned, thanks to various cost-saving measures and better, unexpected revenue. It was the manager’s quarterly financial review.

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But it dovetailed cleverly with one of the city commissioners’ proposals. Marshall Shupe wanted to give employees a modest mid-year raise, or a $500 bonus. “I’m really convinced that the moneys that we were able to return back in 2011, which is several hundred thousand dollars, returned back into the general fund, that it behooves us that the people that helped save that money, share a little bit of that,” Shupe said.

It was an odd proposal, not just because of its mid-year surprise: Flagler Beach has just gone hat in hand to the county’s tourism council for $50,000, and to Palm Coast and Bunnell for $22,000 from each (and $11,000 each from Marineland and Beverly Beach), to help with beach projects that Flagler Beach claims it could ill afford on its own. How could it afford raises or bonuses?

Shupe had prepared an extensive argument, backed up by paperwork and some research into the amounts of money “saved” by employees by various means, to support his point, though the commissioners did not get the paperwork until tonight. He added up “a couple of hundred thousand dollars” in such savings.

“I know that for some people the timing is incorrect,” Shupe continued, alluding to—for example—the employees’ Christmas party, scheduled for the end of this week. Nevertheless, he said, when employees are helping bring more money in, “it’s time to share.”

Commissioner Joy McCrew was immediately receptive, even though in the past she’d opposed such moves. She gave her support to Shupe. But she was alone doing so.

Commissioners Jane Mealy, Steve Settle and Kim Carney rejected the proposal, so it failed.

A $500 bonus per employee would have cost the city $40,000—not much, in the scheme of things, but symbolically more than three commissioners were willing to pay just now. The commission did just that two years ago, in the form of a 2 percent bonus. But it did so as part of its budget process. And last year, city employees got a 3 percent raise (the first actual raise in four years). That $40,000 is awfully close to the $50,000 contribution Flagler Beach got from the Tourist Development Council to underwrite a controversial beach-protection study. Handing out bonuses that add up to a similar amount could have looked as if the city was channeling money from the TDC to its employees, especially since, had the TDC not agreed to the sum, the city would have dipped into its reserve to cover the expense.

“Obviously Mr. Shupe is very eloquent,” Settle said. “As a coincidence I got a couple of phone calls today from people saying what’s wrong with you guys, you’re going to debate a salary increase two weeks before Christmas and the night before your employee Christmas party. How can anyone adequately debate that? Because you’re going to wind up looking like the Grinch at Christmas time.” But that’s exactly what Settle was prepared to be, Settle himself said, “because in my mind the question is certainly not whether the employees of Flagler Beach deserve a raise. It’s not whether they’ve been working hard and whether they’ve done an admirable job. The question is, can we afford it, and what are the consequences if we approve a pay raise at this juncture? What are the long-term consequences, what are the short-term consequences?”

Settle said what Carney and Mealy would also eventually say: there may be a place for a salary increase or a bonus, but not mid-year, outside the budget process. He also spoke of the reserve fund as “a hedge for what’s coming.” Settle predicts a more budget year in 2013 than in previous years, because of continued property value declines.

“The budget process has a function, and the budget process has already been lived out,” Carney said. “I would rather take time and energy getting people evaluated.”

Reserves, too, are on commissioners’ minds.

“Sandy blew through here, we were lucky, nothing much happened,” Mealy, the commission chairman, said. (Actually, the pier was damaged, and Flagler Beach just asked Palm Coast to help defray the cost of repairs, only to be told to go take a dive in the ocean. The money Flagler Beach was asking for is about half the cost of the raises Shupe was requesting.)

“To now start giving money here or taking money out there, we would be violating that section of our ordinances, and we just let some employees go,” Mealy said. “It’s very hard for me to say it. You all know I was a union president for a long time. This just goes so counter to my whole past life.” But taxpayers weren’t happy with the higher taxes the commission had to approve, making this the wrong time to approve such an initiative, rather than keep the money in reserves.

The city’s finances are stable, if not improving—though apparently not improving so much that the city could stop short of laying off employees.

Revenues have been exceeding expenses by $756,000, a 10 percent “betterment of where we thought we would be” when budgeting for the year, Campbell said. Some $600,000 of that is in the general fund, but that’s absent accounts from September, the last month of the fiscal year, when Campbell expects additional bills to be due, whether because of litigation or other expenses. “Having taken all that in the mixing port for the general fund, we believe still we’re going to be returning some $210,000, up to $250,000 back to the general fund before the official close of 2011-12.” The budget had projected only a $76,000 surplus. Campbell credited the staff for the improved numbers.

On the other hand, expenses are outpacing revenue by $380,000 in the first two months of the new fiscal year, but that’s not unusual, as expenses and revenues don’t usually track closely for much of the year, especially with lags in cash deposits from the tax collection. Almost 50 percent of the revenue is driven by property taxes, and the first batch of such revenue didn’t come in until Nov. 30.

On the negative side, the city has a $22,000 deficit in the building code inspection fund. “That deficit is not because we have spent like drunken sailors in the building department,” Campbell said, but because revenues did not come in as anticipated: fewer inspections are being conducted. He expects a $15,000 deficit by year’s end. The community redevelopment fund is also in deficit, with a $30,000 shortfall, which ostensibly caused the elimination of CRA director Susanne Wilde’s position.

14 Responses for “As Flagler Beach Asks for Hand-Outs, A Commissioner Asks for Employee Raises”

  1. J MILLER says:

    Just becasue you have it doesn’t mean you have to spend it!

  2. Diego Miller says:

    I commend Mr. Shupe, its shocking to hear someone stand up for your most valuable asset. It shouldn’t be.
    We have been trampling the working Joe for years, beating him up with no raises, digging into the cost of Medical Insurance responsibilities and now they want the Pensions to go 401K. If the other Plutocrat Commissioners don’t think it’s time to bring the salaries up to national standards at least drop by the Employee lunch room one day and say, Good job, thank you.

  3. notasenior says:

    Raises get compounded – bonuses don’t. Put some of the money away for a rainy day and then use the balance for a one time bonus. Base the bonus not on employee evaluations (too subjective and subject to favoritism) but based on attendance, cost savings attributable to the employee, and extra training that the employee has undertaken on his/her own.

  4. Moneytree says:

    The county commissioners approved $275,000 in bonuses on Nov 19 and it wasn’t on the agenda! What is the Sunshine Law?

  5. What about... says:

    Earlier in the meeting, there was a very informative presentation by a school group re: flavored tobacco and our youth. It would have been nice if the coverage of the meeting included some of that info. I learned a great deal from them.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      The presentation was interesting but it was based on a lot of information we have not verified, and the resolution proposed (“limiting youth access to all forms of candy or fruit flavored tobacco”) is redundant, and entirely symbolic, since those products are already banned from sale to minors–and should not, under any circumstance, be banned from sale to adults, absent an additional resolution to adjoin Flagler Beach’s ordinances to Saudi Arabia’s. We might follow-up, but with more solid information, which we’ll seek out from the health department.

  6. Really? says:

    Flagler County gave the county employees a $400.00 “bonus” this year BUT those Flagler County employees have NOT had any raises for 4 years! Flagler Beach gave their employees a raise last year and still they want to bonus them this year!! Why not lower the milage rate or give the taxpayers a bonus check back. I just paid over $5000.00 in property taxes…part of that was to Flagler Beach! Instead of giving that money away why don’t you refund my part back to me? I am barely making it. I haven’t had a raise in a long time and yet my milage rate has gone UP UP UP. Or fix the drainage problem on my street that persists—flooding every time it rains. This is why I want to leave the city of Flagler Beach forever. Wake up!

  7. CHECK PLEASE says:

    I would like to see how many people have been laid off !
    I know of a few who could use their jobs back and be happy with NO bonus

  8. Deep South says:

    A good employee is one that is treated faifly. Give them the bonuses !

    • Waverly says:

      The heck with the bonuses. This is an insult to employees. The county gave $400 to each employee and the employee paid taxes out of that. This equates to nothing over a period of time, and was done to avoid raises for perhaps another 5 years? Mean while the fat cats keeps getting fatter, and they got bonuses too! It is very disturbing that the county gave bonuses in a sneaky fashion. At least we here in Flagler Beach brought this out publically in the proper way.

  9. PJ says:

    I don’t like a bonus because it is not a structured raise.

    You should give raises based on an employees work ethic on the job.

    Also you as a City need to budget an annual raise to treat your employees right.

    If that means you must raise taxes too bad.

    You get what you pay for.

    If you treat an employee by rewarding them with a raise you have a happy employee.

    Several things happen when an employee is happy.

    Let me share some of these things with you:

    * better attendance
    * less injuries
    * better cohesive joint department cooperation
    * better public perception of a (lazy) municipal employee
    * people REALLY like to come to work

    I can go on.

    As far Commissioner Shupe. Union President retired this is a natural effect as he would rationalize even asking for the raises.

    Just remember Commissioner you represent the residents of the city not a union hall.

    However, I do like his style………………………………………ya, brother from Local 813

  10. Alex says:

    I can’t blame the elected officials of Flagler Beach for asking for money from the county and cities and than turn around and give out bonuses.

    If there is any accountability around here, the grantors should be held accountable.

  11. glad fly says:

    christmas bonus and a government job at that? a lot of folks would just like to have a job. to have a government job in flagler county or palm coast is like winning the lottery.

  12. concerned citizen says:

    To Really, Why don’t you take a look at what Flagler County pays their employees V.S. Flagler Beach. Also while you are doing so take a close look at what Flagler County employees have got to pay for health insurance V.S. the City of Flagler Beach!!

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