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County Administrator Craig Coffey Seeking 10% Raise, to $161,000, Amid Other Personnel Costs

| December 12, 2014

County Administrator Craig Coffey has been at the Flagler job since 2007. (© FlaglerLive)

County Administrator Craig Coffey has been at the Flagler job since 2007. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey is asking for a 10 percent raise which, if granted, would raise his base salary from $146,383 to $161,000, making him the second-highest paid public employee in the county after Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon, whose base salary is a few thousand dollars higher. The raise would be the steepest granted any local government executive since the Great Recession.

An amendment to Coffey’s contract would also make a 3 percent annual merit increase to Coffey’s salary automatic unless the commission affirmatively decides to give a different amount. That would make Coffey’s contract terms the most generous of all local government executives’.

Coffey’s raise would be in addition to the raises he’s received in the past two years, as his contract calls for him being automatically awarded the same percentage increases that county employees receive. Since July 2012, for example, when the county commission agreed to Coffey’s request that his contract be extended to 2016, his salary has increased $5,000, or 3.5 percent. He also receives a $4,800 car allowance plus mileage and expenses.

Coffey’s contract will automatically renew through 2019 if the county commission does not communicate to him in writing, by Oct. 23, 2015, that it does not choose to renew.

County commissioners were mulling the proposal on Friday when interviewed separately, with Frank Meeker speaking most favorably of it, Barbara Revels and Nate McLaughlin speaking favorably but reserving judgment until the commission discussion, and Charlie Ericksen saying it should make for an interesting discussion.

“I like the job Craig Coffey is doing. He’s been here seven years, maybe eight years, I think he’s got what 2 percent, one and a half percent and one and a half percent, that’s about it,” Meeker said.

George Hanns was more skeptical, citing the 1 percent raise all other employees got in comparison, and calling the 1 percent “pathetic.”

“This is something that I have to really delve into my conscience to come up with a logical explanation, not that he doesn’t deserve it, but there’s hundreds of others who also deserve it. It’s not going to be cut and dried,” Hanns said. “I have a history of treating everyone the same and fairly, and not putting someone on a pedestal and saying you’re doing so much better, when the people under him are getting just 1 percent.”

Coffey’s salary increase request is one of several personnel items that would significantly increase county administrative staff costs. Coffey is asking that Helga van Eckert, hired two years ago at a salary of $110,700, be reclassified into the Senior Management Service Class, which would considerably increase her retirement benefits—and the county’s costs to contribute to that benefit. That cost would add a $15,778 charge to van Eckert’s salary and benefits, which Coffey proposes to take out of the Department of Economic Opportunity’s budget.

That three-person department saw its budget quietly increase this year from $898,000 to $1.3 million. The county administration clarified later this afternoon that while the line budget shows the $1.3 million, the amount reflects the grants that are included in the department’s budget. The department’s administrative budget, Carl Laundrie, the county’s communications manager said, remains $400,000. Among the grants, $500,000 is from Enterprise Florida, the economic development agency, and may only be used as incentives for business, not for administrative expenses. The rest is a brownfields clean-up grant channeled through the department. See the department’s full budget breakdown here.

A series of personnel cost increases, none of which were discussed at budget time a few months ago.

Eight directors are in the senior classification—the county administrator and his deputy, the county attorney and his deputy, the financial services director, the county engineer, the general services director and the community services director. Several other top positions, including the emergency services director and the communications manager, are not on the list. (The county fire chief isn’t on it because he’s classified in a job category considered high risk, which actually gets an even higher retirement benefit than senior executives.)

A third item on Monday’s meeting agenda concerns the communications position, held by Carl Laundrie since 2003. Coffey is looking to end that position and replace it with two new ones: a public information officer and a public relations and marketing specialist. Each position would have a salary of between $33,000 and $38,000 with salary and benefit costs totaling $46,500 for each, compared to Laundrie’s current salary of $62,500 (83,500 with benefits), thus raising the county’s PR budget by about $10,000. Coffey is proposing drawing from reserves to cover the difference when Laundrie retires in February and the two new positions kick in.

The marketer would “implement public relations campaigns with the goal of enriching the county’s position within the public eye,” the administrator’s memo to the commission states. The PIO position would be devoted to writing news releases, respond to public record requests, help plan special events, and “use judgment and discretion in disseminating information,” according to the job description.

All three items–none of which were discussed in numerous budget workshops leading up to the new fiscal year–appear on the “consent” section of the agenda. The consent agenda includes, or is intended to include, all routine items that do not get discussed individually, and get approved with one vote at the beginning of the meeting. But the public and commissioners have the right to ask that items be pulled off the consent agenda for discussion, and commissioners routinely do so, especially with  items of public interest.

Regarding Coffey’s raise, the cover memo to commissioners was ostensibly written by Joe Mayer, the community services and human resources director. “Each year,” Mayer wrote, “Mr. Coffey has opted to only receive increases that all other employees receive, which speaks highly of his character. However, staff believes that it is time to properly compensate Mr. Coffey for all of the outstanding work he has accomplished throughout his seven years of employment.”

The memo states that the proposed raise is a staff recommendation (though clearly Coffey is behind the request: nothing makes it on the agenda without his approval), and that the $161,000 salary would bring Coffey closer to his peers in pay in surrounding counties. Clay and St. Johns’ county executives, who govern counties with nearly twice the population of Flagler’s, have salaries of $192,000 and $196,000, according to the back-up material furnished with Coffey’s request, while Volusia’s county executive has a base salary of $222,000, but a population of half a million. The list also includes Landon’s salary, which has not changed since the recession.

Revels and McLaughlin insisted that the proposal was being driven by staff rather than by Coffey. “This was not Craig’s idea, this was totally brought forward by others, not him, and that he had no knowledge of it,” Revels said.

Coffey included a memo of his own to commissioners listing his accomplishments in six pages of single-spaced bullet points, but no performance evaluation.

Craig Coffey Raise Documentation

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45 Responses for “County Administrator Craig Coffey Seeking 10% Raise, to $161,000, Amid Other Personnel Costs”

  1. Sherry Epley says:

    Hummm. . . What if all government officials and staff received the same percentage raise as the “Minimum Wage” raises? Maybe that would help, just a little, to level the playing field.

  2. Nancy N says:

    Explain to me how we have all this money to throw around for raises after they spent so much buying that wreck of a former hospital from their buddies?

  3. Since 1987 says:

    Yet we hold off giving our law enforcement 1%.

    • bunnell native says:

      don’t you think they get enough money. the county office is the biggest joke, tax office and all, they treat people like crap and get raises. now what don’t make sence of this , get rid off 90% of them . I sick of this people ripping us off. they don’t need raises they need to learn how to treat people. and do a job first

  4. KB63 says:

    Well of course, give him a great big raise. According to the U.S Census Bureau the median household income from 2009 – 2013 for Flagler County was $47,233, barely enough to live on and that’s with 2 or 3 people’s salaries! How could we possibly believe he could squeak by on a measly 5% or so raise with the incredible amount he already makes? And to put it in the consent agenda, like no one needs to comment on it! What a joke.

  5. Ben says:

    How about minimum wage instead?

  6. attila says:

    This guy should be fired. He has wasted a lot of our money. It’s not his money so he does’nt care and the commisioners don’t have the guts to get rid of him..

  7. Gia says:

    He is already well overpaid with all those generous benefits, free vehicle, expenses, lunches! etc. etc….Enough is enough for what he is doing. Like they said don’t like it go somewhere else.

  8. ogrethetop says:

    Maybe they should ask the fire dept how they fell about that?

  9. confidential says:

    For what…? Greed without limits! We can’t afford him as is now…if he doesn’t like his current pay he can go elsewhere for a better one. We, taxpayers, would greatly benefit if he resigns and heads for better pastures. Stop stealing and raising our taxes.

  10. Anonymous says:

    what more is he doing to justify the increase?

  11. steve miller says:

    What more is he doing to justify an increase?

  12. openmined says:

    HOLY%^&^%$#, this guy went to school to learn one thing; To schmooze us Flagler County naïve fools. He has no loyalty to Flagler. His loyalty is to only himself. Just another smooth talking, great public speaker taking us to The Cleaners. The Grunts; i.e.: Firefighters, Cops, Nurses, Teachers get almost nothing. All four are in my family. All four love Flagler and their job. This guy gets granted everything. What does this guy offer from his magical brain that fools all of you?

  13. Jerry M says:

    Are you kidding me! $1.3 million!! For the economic development department?! Let’s bring back enterprise Flagler for the yearly $100k the county gave. I haven’t seen any real results from Helga.

  14. Bob Scholer. says:

    You all VOTED THEM IN Don’t; Give Any of them a Dime all of them Received THERE BONUSES From all the Contractars That received The extras on PAVING,ADD ONS “New Town Hall,Bulldog DR. That the city does not even Own,Side walks ETC,ETC,ETC.

  15. PC tax payer says:

    Fire fighters are making 3 % less hourly than they did 6 yrs ago while the work load and responsibilities have significantly increased along with the cost of their insurance. But sure why shouldn’t Mr Coffey keep giving himself 10 % raises he is saving the county money from not increasing their salary. Most of the firefighters and paramedics I know are proud and do not like to admit it but they live paycheck to paycheck and could really use a increase in pay. Same goes with the Deputies they have been way under paid also. These are the people who are there when we need them at our worst times and they should be taken care of.

    • Ray Thorne says:

      I believe the same can be said for our sheriffs deputies as well. From what I understand, all of our first responders are grossly underpaid.

  16. Bill says:

    His and ALL others should only get as mi=much of a raise as they gave/give to those who really do the day to day work for us. those workers have seen a ZERO 5 increase in the past 5/6 years when one considers the moneys taken out of their retirement compensations. I also think the TOP pay for any Government workers should be capped at $1.00 per resident of the municipality they serve in.

  17. Anonymous says:

    WOW what BS

  18. tim kennedy says:

    Great give them all raises I live in Bunnell I pay for water that is unsafe to drink , the water has ruined my new sink and faucet and then you people tell me that the water bill is going up , you raise taxes for what , now all you assholes that steal from us every day want a raise , you cancel all events in our town , you want a raise , fire you and all the money hogs in office , I try to feed me and my wife each week , pay my bills when I can not knowing when our next meal might be

  19. sw says:

    Get rid of him.Over paid already. I will take his job for half what he makes. Give me a break

  20. Paula Pagliaroni says:

    this is absolutely unjust in these times. have our home value’s gone back up to where they were before the crash? No. The stupid beautification projects going on all over town spending money like water. there are no jobs being added in our county. Last I heard we are still the poorest county in Florida. how can we give raises at rates that were used before the crash when the people who live here still can’t afford gas, groceries, clothing. The free lunch program is at an all time high, everything points to lowering costs not raising them. If they want higher wages then they need to cut out enough spending so not to increase costs. but then if they do that it would totally be taking personal gain over the needs of the city. a large raise at this time and the continuing years is out of line. raises are due to merit and the economy. SAY NO TO RAISES.

  21. Sue says:

    I have a very hard time digesting these salaries when the average person in flagler county has difficulty finding a job that pays ten dollars an hour. These are salaries that are for people that live in NY, NJ, etc that are paying 15 to 20 K a year in property taxes. And then you expect more? Talk to the people that have their water shut off or electricity because they are trying to feed their families. This is totally unacceptable in this county given the number of free or reduced lunch children that we have, the number of homeless that we have and the number of people living at or beneath the poverty level. I can not believe that anyone would ask for more money… makes me sick

  22. confidential says:

    All Floridiots in Flagler County that voted for the current two incumbents now can enjoy the immediate results of re-electing Meeker and McLaughing. Can you enjoy how well orchestrated this pay up was, now can you see the all out war against SOE Weeks because she do not bout to fraud .
    Can you see now why County Administrator Coffey was allover the elections canvassing board with his personal secretary taking minutes in order not to have perpetuated and properly documented the “real minutes taken by SOE with total transparency and details?” Can you see how he try to discredit our honest SOE by calling himself and his minions commissioners the FDLE frivolous investigation of the recording of a 3rd degree felony committed by the County Attorney and his FCBOCC bosses?
    Next will be these same pathetic FCBOCC proposing not only this undeserving increase for Coffey but another one for County Attorney Hadeed…meanwhile Floridiots dig in your tax pockets.

  23. Joe says:

    Well, well, well, elections do have consequences….. When does it all stop? I don’t mind paying taxes as long as the stewards of that money spend it wisely, its funny how these government entity’s seem to always cry poor mouth and yet they can mysteriously always find the funds to give a honcho a nice big juicy raise. I feel like we have been duped again! Can anyone out there name 10 dynamic things that either of them (Coffee-Van Ekert) have done in the last 3 years that would justify these gargantuan raises? Please list them for me!

  24. PJ says:

    Coffey has done a good job getting the County through one of the worst ecnomic times in US hstory. He should get some kind of raise for that.

  25. JoJo says:

    The arrogance – the hubris!

  26. says:

    Get rid of him and Landon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    This is sad. I know lots of people who work for the county. Most struggle to pay their bills, feed their families and to just live. The little 1% raise they just got is not going to make up for the years of no raises. If anyone should get more money it is all the grunts of the county, the firefighters, teachers, police, library workers, janitors, trades workers and rangers. He takes credit for accomplishments that he had little to do with. If you believe this is wrong and don’t want to see this happen. We need to stand up against. We need people to go to the meeting on Monday December 15th at 5 pm at the Government Services Building in Bunnell and ask that this be pulled from the agenda. If no one stands up and asks then it will just slide through. I know lots of county staff would love to do this, but they also know it is job suicide.

  28. tulip says:

    The reason Flagler County “got through” bad economic times is because a couple of years there used to be 2 commissioners on the board at the time. thay went over each and every department budget and financial issues and were as careful as they could possibly be about how money was spent. Now they are no longer in office and we have spendthrifts sitting on the BOCC. that are supported by people like Mori Huessani, developers and realtors.

  29. Anonymous says:

    PJ obviously has a friend in Coffey. Flagler Live should interview career employees that have lost their jobs by Coffee and Sherman. Of course this will never happen. We keep hearing about economy moving up. What a joke!

  30. hell no says:

    This guy is administrator over roughly 20 percent of the unincorporated area of the county. He is way over paid and exceeded his time here and he knows it. How could he think he deserves 8% more than everyone else? We don’t need a county spin doctor (spokesman). Those that are responsible should be the ones talking. No need for 2 people to do what one person has been doing. Remember Palm Coast is 80% of the county and that is why Landon is paid more. Its too bad this wasn’t raised before the elections. The county commissions have no regard for how our tax dollars are being spent! Coffey needs to be fired!

  31. The Cat Lady says:

    Coffy is a disgrace to this county. He should NOT get a raise, they need to get rid of him. Maybe then there can be some relief for Flagler County.

  32. Rob says:

    Good Ol Frank Meeker will happily vote for this raise similar to the way he voted to purchase his campaign contributor’s broken down water plant and the other politically connected investor’s dilapidated hospital..

  33. confidential says:

    I am glad that now your all minions voting for the incumbents can appreciate what you have done! Correct this dude Coffe only administrates 20% of the population of this county as Landon manages the 80% in Palm Coast. An these just re-elected crooks along the other 3 put the item in “consent agenda”.
    Fraud at work. All these FCBOCC, administrator and attorney are the ones that call on our honest SOE frivolous investigation by the FDLE and Tallahassee Elections officials to come and monitor our elections..?

  34. Rob says:

    Can’t the citizens of this county/city figure out that paying for two governments is a waste of money.
    The people of Palm Coast were sold a snow job with that self rule propaganda. 80% of the population is paying for governement that basically represents 20% of the population.

    There should be one government, and let Bunnell stand alone while it borders bankruptcy.

  35. carol bennett says:

    Wow, $144K is not enough?
    Let’s see what the commissioner will do?? Oh, They want a raise too?
    And the Tax payers are the losers.

  36. sayWhat says:

    from what i hear Coffee does not deserve any credit or raises. him and joe mayor are quite the pairing. they are bad examples of what citizens of this community should expect out of civic leaders. why do these two get to push thru their agenda on the consent portion, cuz they expect no one would question them? i hope people voice their opposition to this out loud to the people they have voted to represent the peoples voices. we can’t vote who we want for their positions, but we should demand to the ones who have control over these issues

  37. Jason says:

    This position should be compared to other local counties with roughly the same scope and demographics as Flagler County. I am not sure what they pay, but I would be surprised with they pay more than this request. I could be wrong. Can anyone show us these numbers? Thanks so much!

  38. Citizen says:

    Apparently the commissioners dont listen to those whom they represent. Look at how many people on her have negatively commented and how many letters or emails were sent to the commissioners on this and yet they gave it to him anyway. These commissioners dont have any respect or regard to the voters who elected them. There is no way in good conscious why this man deserved a raise. He needs to go….go far away. He’s a disaster.

  39. Joe says:

    It boggles the mind how these commissioners keep getting elected, elections have consequences and this is another example of it!

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