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Divided Flagler Commission Awards Administrator Coffey 5% Raise This Year, With More All But Promised

| December 15, 2014

Half now, more later: Craig Coffey's salary got a nearly $6,000 raise Monday evening. (© FlaglerLive)

Half now, more later: Craig Coffey’s salary got a nearly $6,000 raise Monday evening. (© FlaglerLive)

Craig Coffey walked out of the Flagler County Commission’s meeting room just as commissioners took up the proposal that he get a 10 percent raise, a proposal he and some county commissioners alleged Coffey’s “staff” proposed–meaning it was channeled through Human Resources Director Joe Mayer. No one asked rank-and-file employees what they thought of the administrator getting a 10 percent raise, and no commissioners asked.

Had Coffey stayed in the room, he’d have heard an hour-long debate between commissioners about the wisdom of such a steep increase when compared to the 1 percent county employees just received, commendations about his job performance, the need for more objective criteria by which raises are awarded across the organization, some angry public comments opposing the proposal, and one suggestion that Coffey earn his raise by meeting some performance incentives.

Along the way, it became clear that commissioners Charlie Ericksen and George Hanns were opposed to the raise, Frank Meeker and Nate McLaughlin—whose recent re-election was helped in no small part by Coffey facilitating their pet projects, whether in West Side infrastructure and public safety improvements or through putting Hammock issues at the top of the county’s legislative priorities—were all for a raise, and Barbara Revels suggested cutting the proposal in half.

Her actual proposal was to give Coffey a 4 percent raise and revisit the issue at budget time next spring. But as Hanns pointed out, Coffey would actually be getting a 5 percent raise since he just benefited from the same 1 percent awarded all county employees. “So in effect it ends up to be a 5 percent increase,” Hanns said. “Would anyone be interested in amending that to say a 3 percent, and that would end up to be a 4? It’s only two months ago that everyone got 1.” (Sheriff’s deputies and other employees are still waiting for their 1 percent.)

No one was interested. Revels’s motion passed, 3-2. As a result, Coffey will get a $5,855 raise, bringing his current salary of $146,383  (which had risen just under $1,500 two months ago) to $152,238, not counting his car allowance and benefits. The raise is effective immediately.

Commissioners were more unified in rejecting what would have been an automatic 3% annual raise.

None of the commissioners, with the possible exception of Meeker, were interested in the other proposal Coffey slipped into what would have been his amended contract: an automatic 3 percent annual salary increase, absent affirmative action by the commission not to go along with the automatic provision. “Historically, we totally forget about that, and when it’s not brought up, it just goes right through,” Hanns said. Revels had included a rejection of the 3 percent automatic raise proposal in her motion.

The rest of Coffey’s raise has not been rejected, exactly: commissioners all but guaranteed that he would be getting a further raise next spring, pending what proposal he’ll bring forward for the rest of the county’s employees. In effect, by agreeing to that commitment, commissioners—perhaps unwittingly—have wedded Coffey’s raise to county employees’ raises, even though the administrator’s salary and contract are the sole responsibility of commissioners. “Staff,” whether administrative or rank and file, have no say regarding the administrator’s contract, salary structure or timing of his raises: those are expressly the duties of the commission, which hires and fires only two employees: the administrator and the county attorney.)

Revels couched her support for a raise in a long preface. “We have been scratching and clawing to take great care of the citizens’ tax dollar and do the most that we could do with it, back-pedal as fast as we could in the years that revenues were falling, and government cannot act as fast as companies can. So it was difficult to get volume and our dollar of operation to fall as fast as some might have liked,” revels said. “And now that things have reversed themselves and they have started to come back, we are doing as careful a job as we can to not rush out and spend people’s dollars. I’m very sensitive to Commissioner Hanns’s comments regarding the salary increase for all of our employees. We all know that we would love to give them more. We all know that we are losing good people because communities around us are able to pay more. There’s no doubt about it, we leak to St. Johns and we leak to Volusia, and maybe to the city of Palm Coast, but we can and will continue to lose staffing if we cannot become more in parity in our payroll. So hopefully this year’s budget session will enable us to continue that work with our employees.”

george hanns flagler county commission district 5 candidate elections 2012 herb whitaker

George Hanns. (© FlaglerLive)

Of his seven years in Flagler—in which Coffey’s cumulative base salary alone came to about $1 million—Revels said: “When you compare what that buys you for another administrator anywhere else in Florida and other areas, it’s starting to show that you don’t get a lot for that, and I think we’ve gotten a lot for that.” At that point she proposed “somewhere between 3 and 5” percent, adjusting it at budget time based on what the commission will do for the rest of its employees.

McLaughlin and Meeker spoke in glowing terms about Coffey’s tenure. “We certainly can’t afford some of the salaries that are out there, but we want to look at our budget, we want to look at our funding and make sure that we get quality people and we have a quality person let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot and say for, you know, a couple of dollars they can walk and we get somebody else cheap, cheap, because really you get what you pay for, with that said, being mindful of where we are economically, where the county is revenue-wise and financially and the great care that this board takes in the expenditure of funds.” He, too, described a raise of between 3 and 5 percent as “palatable.”

Ericksen took exception to a suggestion that his earlier concern about the raise would be interpreted as “taking the cheapest we could find,” then spoke of needing more objective means of evaluating Coffey every year, as opposed to the generalities in the evaluation now. “I still support the fact that he’s doing an excellent job for us,” Ericksen said. “I wouldn’t expect anything less though from that particular position. If it was something less, that person shouldn’t be in that position.”

Hanns, too, stressed that he’d never suggested that Coffey’s work was anything less than commendable. “We’re not in a position to do it and it just doesn’t look good for me to say to the employees, hundreds of you are deserving, but we’re going to give Mr. Coffey 10 percent, the rest of you get 1 percent. That’s what I’m troubled over, and how do you justify that?”

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16 Responses for “Divided Flagler Commission Awards Administrator Coffey 5% Raise This Year, With More All But Promised”

  1. jadobi says:

    That’s an open handed slap to the face to all of FCSO that can’t get any raise…

  2. The Real Bunnell Resident says:

    What a shame to keep freezing pay raises for county employees or giving them a paltry 1% and then give this guy such a huge raise. County employes haven’t received merit increases in like 6 or 7 years. If he were a leader he would fight for their pay raises and get no larger increases than the rank and file. Way to take care of number one!

  3. tulip says:

    I watched that meeting last night and it was very obvious that the conjoined twins meeker and McLaughlin wanted to give Coffey the raise.McLaughlin was a little more obvious in that he said something about what would we do if Coffey found another job somewhere else that paid more? As if to say we better pay him more, or Coffey will leave.

    Well I don’t think there are too many open jobs for county administrator and if there are and they pay more, it may cost more to live in those places than it does here. Coffey praised his employees by saying that they were a big help in his getting his accomplishments done. So why didn’t he offer to give up some of his raise and give it to them? Greed I guess. I don’t see where Coffey has done more or less than other county administrators.

    The commissioners bemoaned the fact that the city employees aren’t getting good raises because of little money and pretended to feel bad for them and the workers might also leave and find other jobs and we would be left with hiring less competent people. BS! They always find money for what they want, find money for the people that actually keep the county and cities running. Without them, Coffee and his group would be worthless. It’s sort of like a restaurant, good cooks ,good food, good service, respect for the patrons are what the employees give or don’t give that make a restaurant a success.not the “administrator/owner of the place.

    We now have the three muskateers who have their own good ol boy society that will rule Flagler County. Perhaps voters should’ve paid attention to what was going on instead of blindly following the media stories.

    Well Mr.Coffey, enjoy your new raise and big money while the employees struggle with far less.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to those employees, Coal in the stockings of the rest.

  4. Rob says:

    You can always count on Frank Meeker, too bad the people who voted for him couldn’t have their taxes earmarked for the raise and give the rest of us a pass.

  5. lena Marshal says:

    this is bad, Our FCSO put their lives on the line everyday, our streets are safe, but the County Admin, is one of the best, and he would like to everyone to have a raise.
    kinda of tired of these good old boys playing cat and mouse.
    And Barbara Revels get some balls. ! Stop following in someone elses foot steps.

  6. diago valdez says:

    Coffey owes it all to Joe Mayer. He put the fix in to hire this used car salesmen. The county employes have been passed over while the chiefs get all the wampum. Coffey is an empty suit with no clue or solutions. The County Commission is incompetent!

  7. Rain says:

    Nice way to take care of number 1. When will your increase appear in your paycheck, next week? The rest of the County Employees are still awaiting their lousy 1%. While it is great that he thanks his staff, who helped him secure his raise, how about getting them their raise in their paycheck along with the rest of the County Employees!

  8. confidential says:

    You’ll voted for Meeker and “McLaugh” right..? so here is the first implication…now, the second one will be coming soon with probably a raise proposal for the County Attorney too.

  9. taxpayer says:

    How is it that this person, at the top of the salary scale gets 5%? Get rid of him, the commisioners that voted for the increase, and Mayer!

  10. Wishful Thinking says:

    What I tried to emphasize to the Board of Flagler Commissioners is that Craig Coffey is in TOTAL charge of a population of 23,000 not 100,000 as his salary comparison chart tried to project !
    70,000 Palm Coast – 4,500 +/- Flagler Beach, 2,600+/- Bunnell who all have their own CITY MANAGERS…..

    And the accomplishments of Mr. Coffey have included some negatives during his administration.. The 2.5 million over payment for the Plantation Bay Water utility which the county should have taken for appraised price via eminent domain – then the pathethic piece of garbage hospital building for our sheriff who is not on the 2014 list of Flagler’s most popular people ……….
    We have a helicopter for emergencies sitting on the ground 12 hours a day because there is no money for a night time helicopter pilot to transport a Flagler County resident to Halifax Trauma center between 8PM and 8AM… This alone is disgraceful. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in Florida – no code enforcement to speak of and the only good thing to come out of the meeting last night was the great news that a aviation and aeronautical engineering company are coming to town and leased some space at our airport…… They found us by the way – rumor has it that the fancy schmancy Chamber had nothing to do with bringing them here I Let’s not forget that nothing is being done about the misuse of our tax dollars our Property Appraiser is promoting his wife’s chosen Association of realtors as a link to our public web site… The county administration is becoming a bigger joke than South Florida.

    Anyway – very Happy Holidays to everyone

  11. Mark Richter Jr says:

    We reap what we sow. Vote in crooked politicians get crooked consequences.

  12. free says:

    give give give , do nothing for Bunnell , but make sure all you money holes git a raise , you all are !@#$%^&&**(()&*&^%$ and allways will be ,

  13. Citizen says:

    The county is like 20 percent of the county. The city of Palm Coast is just under 80% of the county. Coffey should be paid 20% of Landon’s pay. We tax payers should not be paying for duplicated expenses. We should not be filling Coffey’s pockets because we have a good ole boy network. This goes to show the regard the commissions have for our tax dollars are being spent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps those City’s should undo their duplicate expenses and or roles. remember the County was established first then the City’s. One way to save $$ would to have all the Fire and police forces be County. Bunnell and Flagler beach residents would save 4 if such went ito effect and plamcoast would save $ for its residents if its Fire dept. was joined with the County.

  14. The Real Bunnell Resident says:

    He famously tells county employees that he has personally approved pay raises to certain individuals to encourage them to stay with the county but then targets people like Troy Harper by hiring a replacement first and then kicking Troy out the door. Look at all the good firefighters and paramedics that left the county to work elsewhere for better pay. Look at the 6 year employees that make the same as new hires. There will be many more folks departing for much greener pastures in neighboring counties.

  15. My thoughts says:

    Don’t forget Meeker and McLaughlin got their political starts at the City of Palm Coast – Meeker on the Planning Board and then City Council; McLaughlin on the Planning Board. And who is the top administrator at the City? Jim Landon, one of the most highly COMPENSATED City Manager in the State! He makes more than most of the County Administrators who have more responsibilities (Sheriff Depts., Airports, Mass transit facilities, etc.).

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