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Sheriff Manfre Will Ask For 5% Pay Raise For Ranks, First Substantial Increase in 6 Years

| January 29, 2015

The last time Flagler County Sheriff's deputies got a substantial raise dates back to 2009. (© FlaglerLive)

The last time Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies got a substantial raise dates back to 2009. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre will ask for a 5 percent wage increase for deputies and other employees at the agency starting next October. That would be the first serious raise in six years, and should the employees’ union agree in negotiations in spring, a “step” plan would be instituted to ensure that deputies’ pay increases yearly based on experience, merit and, eventually, education.

Manfre will be submitting his request to the Flagler County Commission come budget season in late spring, and the commission must approve the request, which amounts to roughly an extra $700,000 in the sheriff’s $22 million budget.

It’s too early to determine whether property values are rising enough to enable the county to afford substantial wage increases, but Manfre candidly said that it’s the county commission that set the bar for substantial wage increases when it agreed to granting its county administrator, Craig Coffey, half the 10 percent salary increase he asked for just before Christmas, three months into the budget year. (Coffey had received a 1 percent increase in October; along with other county employees. The commission added 4 percent in December, and said it would revisit the matter with potentially an additional raise for the administrator later this year.)

“That’s what I’m going to be asking the county for,” Manfre said. “At this point in order for me to continue to attract quality candidates and keep the good employees that I have, I need to give them a substantial raise.” Referring to Coffey’s raise, he said: “I got a lot of very strong feedback on when the county commission did that. It’s very clear to me that in order for me to keeping a well-functioning group in this agency, I had to very quickly come out and say, we will match that amount in the coming year.” The county, he said, “set the bar.” (In fairness to Coffey, the county administrator began budget season last year by proposing a 5 percent raise for all employees but was shot down by the commission, which agreed to 1 percent.)

Sheriff’s deputies just got a 1 percent raise, retroactive to Oct. 1, that had been embargoed by a variety of issues. Union officials said the 1 percent, awarded by the county commission and in the sheriff’s budget since the beginning of the fiscal year, should have been awarded in October. But it was being held back until now because of the lawsuits the sheriff faces, and the potential payouts he might have to make once they’re settled.

“These guys were looking for what the intent was from the county commission, which was to award that 1 percent,” Mike Scudiero, the union’s chief negotiator, said today. “Obviously there was a lot of frustration and people weren’t happy when that was withheld.”

The county administrator’s 5 percent raise “set the bar” for the sheriff to ask that his employees be treated equally.

Manfre says the lawsuits had nothing to do with it, and that the 1 percent—about $150,000 to $160,000—was in the budget all along. “The 1 percent was going to be given them one way or another, but the problem was if we were going to have a payout, we couldn’t give them the 1 percent in the first quarter,”  the sheriff said. “We never said we were not going to give them the 1 percent, it was never anything we said, it was a matter of timing.”

The different interpretations—and the fact that employees felt entitled to what had been budgeted for them—caused friction between the sheriff and the union, leading to more claims and counterclaims. Then earlier this month it appeared that the embargo on the money had been lifted, though Manfre made the money available to non-union employees first, because they’re not covered by the union contract that must have its membership’s ratification on issues such as wage changes.

“After careful review of the Agency’s budget I am granting a one percent (1%) wage increase to all non-union personnel employed as of October 1, 2014,” Manfre wrote employees in an email earlier this month. “Any increases for unionized employees will be implemented once FCSO and the PBA/PEA complete their obligations under collective bargaining. The 1% wage increase for non-union employees will be included in the paychecks to be issued on February 6, 2015. This increase will only pertain to active employees. An additional check covering the retroactive application of the increase from the date of October 1, 2014 will also be issued on this date. Thank you for your service, sacrifice and patience.”

It was that email rather than direct contact with the union that informed the union that the money was available, and led Jon Dopp, a union representative and a deputy, to contact the sheriff to ensure that the 1 percent was available for all ranks. That led to the vote this week by the union membership’s three bargaining units (civilian, detention and road patrol) to accept the amendments to the contract, including the 1 percent raise. The vote, the last of which was cast Wednesday evening, was 92 percent in favor (with 93 employees voting).

“We proved that even through disagreement we’re able to continue working to resolve issues,” Dopp said. “The outlook right now is positive, but that’s based on rumors. Assuming that what I’m hearing about the sheriff’s intentions for next year, moving forward I have a positive outlook to work out another contract with him successfully.”

A 1 percent raise amounts to very little money for most: a starting deputy still makes just $33,000. Many deputies who’ve been at the agency for years don’t make much more than that, so 1 percent works out to less than $400 before taxes.

With the 1 percent issue settled, attention for both the sheriff and the union now turns to the next contract negotiations, as the current contract is up in September. The new three-year contract will be negotiated in spring. A salary study both sides paid for found that Flagler deputies’ wages are substantially below those of their colleagues in neighboring agencies, and that a 6 percent raise, on average, would even the disparity. Dopp said that between the 1 percent received this year and 5 percent next year, the two raises would combine to bring wages up “where we need to be.”

Deputies last got serious raises in the three years ending in 2009, when wages negotiated under then-Sheriff Flaming, at a time when the county was riding an extraordinary wave of revenue from the housing boom, netted employees a combined 33.8 percent increase over three years.

Manfre wants to combine the raises with a “step” similar to the one in he had in place during his first term (before Fleming’s two terms) and similar to the one in place for school district employees. Typically, an employee every year would see an increase in pay based on experience. Manfre would add a step for merit, which would be dispensed more subjectively, and a step for education, which would add dollars for employees who complete an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree. Without that step system, a deputy who’s been at the agency seven years isn’t making much more than a deputy who just started.

Scudiero sees the trends in other counties: deputies at the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office just got a 4 percent raise, Volusia deputies got a 3.5 percent raise. The hard times are slowly tapering off, though he recognizes that Flagler had it harder than most, and is just emerging from its slumber. (The unemployment rate in the county fell to its lowest level in six years in December.)

But now is the time for the salary study to translate into reality in Flagler, Scudiero said. “We would like to see that implemented,” he said. “Whether that’s in year one or year two or a combination of, we think it’s time that these employees are paid what they should be paid compared to surrounding agencies and people in similar positions and similar years of service.”

That appears to be the sheriff’s and the union’s intention, even if they have not yet verbalized officially that to each other.

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19 Responses for “Sheriff Manfre Will Ask For 5% Pay Raise For Ranks, First Substantial Increase in 6 Years”

  1. neverwas says:

    I say we get rid of the red light cameras, hire about 10 more deputies and give them raises. The money leaving this county from the red light cameras would easily pay for this and have a surplus. I would love to have more officers around, crime is getting out of control, police presence will help get palm coast going in the right direction again.

  2. Jack Howell says:

    The Sheriff needs to be supported on this issue as this is long over due. To retain and attract quality personnel, the sheriff has to be competitive with other area law enforcement agencies. I also support the efforts of Jon Dopp to get the union on board. One thing I would look at as a possible funding source is the funds saved from the drop in fuel prices. Might be a source that could be rolled into the funding for this raise.

    I would also echo the same raise issue for the Flagler County Fire Fighters. They also need to retain and attract quality personnel. Mr. Coffey is a talented budget analysis and I’m sure he can find the funding sources for raises for both the Sheriff’s Department and Fire Rescue. NEEDS TO BE DONE!

  3. girl says:

    Really, 5% increase ? What happen somebody tell him his ratings are slipping? He’s not going to give anybody an 5% increase – do I smell election time around the corner?

  4. confidential says:

    FCBOCC and Coffey need to approve these increases other than going around dilapidating our taxes buying derelict overpriced utilities and real estate from their significant already wealthy buddies and associates with our taxpayers funds!
    Give our deputies and fire rescue the 5% raise! That is why we pay taxes for.

  5. My O My says:

    Hiring officers in place of red light cameras would also allow for other crimes to be addressed that red light cameras may not be able to detect or address that a law enforcement office can and should. I hope those that do the grunt work are not over looked, those that make under $50,000 a year that are in the office and in the field every day. Some of these people are working two jobs just to survive. It was very insensitive of the board of county commissioners to give Craig Coffey a big fat increase when other county employees weren’t given the same thing. Giving Coffey a raise should have been discussed before the new fiscal year began and took effect October 1st, not after the election to protect those county commissioners who were on the ballot. That was just underhanded and calculated and so wrong.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What about ALL the other county worker who have not seen a “serious” raise in the past 5 or 6 years also??

  7. m&m says:

    The police officers deserve a raise. They’re there when you need them and do a very good job.

  8. Ron Boyce says:

    You better hope the lodge redevelopment and vacation ordinance passes. Or the tax rate on the properties in the hammock will decline along with the revenue from property taxes.then there will be no money for raises.

  9. Rich says:

    Raises for everyone.

  10. Brad says:

    First, I agree that a 5% increase is warranted. BUT there is always the issue with civil sector jobs that the tax revenue has to be there to support that. We get a lot of people demanding higher wages for law enforcement, teachers, and other county/city employees; yet at the same time no one wants their taxes to go up. The reality is that if we want to keep enjoying the low property taxes we have, as a community we need to seize the growth opportunities before us. This is EXACTLY why the Salamander project proposal in the Hammocks should approved to go forward. That is the type of economic driver through expanded tourism that allows for us as a community to pay higher wages and provide increases (when warranted) to civil employees. So, for those that really want pay increases they should be emailing all of the County Commissioners and demanding they vote “YES” for the Salamander project to go forward.

  11. Ray Thorne says:

    In the article above, Manfre states that the lawsuits had nothing to do with raises

    But in this November Flaglerlive article he says the lawsuits did have something to do with raises

    • Ray Thorne says:

      That is what happens when you’re untruthful. It catches up to you so long as someone is paying attention. I dont think the sheriff “asked” for anything and it would appear by all arguments, that the raise is from the efforts of the union and county commission.

  12. FlaglerBear says:

    As a retired police officer from South Florida, I’m almost embarrassed to say that in my last few years, I regularly pulled in over 100K in salary, overtime, incentives, and off-duty. When I found out that Flagler County Deputies started at only 33K I was floored. You see, what the cops do here, and what they do “down there” is no different. It’s only a 4-5 hour drive, yet the dangers are the same. Every car they pull over, every person they encounter, every door they knock on may be their last. Recently there was an article about eleven new deputies that were hired on. As I scanned the article, I saw that the qualifications for most of them were incredible. Military, four year degrees. With those qualifications, they could easily relocate to Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, or Coral Springs and make 4 times what they are making here. They must really love their community because the burdens placed on them for what they make will be astonishing. I just hope the community realizes this and cuts them a little slack. Somehow, I really don’t think that’s going to happen. Very sad. I hope they get that raise, and many more.

  13. Michael says:

    Taxes have to go up every year at a controled rate to allow for pay raises and unforseen repairs of equipment. If you think that we will keep good employees in the county or city government with out them then you are blind. Now before you jump on the fixed income and such, how loud would you be screaming if you did not get a cost of living adjustment in your monthly SSI check.

  14. lena Marshal says:

    our guys need this, they do a lot for our school and community so lets do it.

  15. Lin says:

    I am in favor of this raise for deputies & respect the job they do
    If there are vacancies for jobs in Flagler what are they? I know people who would be happy to take them at current rates.
    The principle to “expect to pay more” every year is ridiculous
    People’s income is actually down with the exception of a lot of government workers look at Coffey for example

    As seniors (hate that word and the generalizations that people throw at us that we are for or against because of our age) we just got about 1.5% increase about the same last year the year b4 no increase. But our medicare Insurance premiums went up 36%. And social security was a plan that I no choice but to participate In — money taken out of my earnings since I was a teenager in the 60s and I’m still paying it

    What the hell does SSI have to do with the sheriffs getting a raise. They deserve it period

  16. My O My says:

    Iena-The police in the schools should not be paid more than the teachers. Why do you think so many want to be resource officers or work in the court house? The teachers are the back bone of the school system and yet administrators and others get the big pay checks! it sounds like here the Sheriff is bitter with Craig Coffey and how his raise was done on the sly.

    • Ray Thorne says:

      I don’t know of many cops that “want” to work in the schools or the court house. Both are career advancement killers.

  17. Tym Othy says:

    Dont like the pay? Get a new job.

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