For the third time in 10 months, Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon, by far the best-compensated government executive in Flagler County, is asking for a raise. Twice before the council rebuffed him, the last time in July in a stinging 3-2 vote. On Tuesday, the council, with three new members, agreed with unanimity that Landon is owed a raise. What remains to decide is how much, and to what extent subsequent raises will be automatic.
But the council appears ready to grant him a 4 percent raise in the next few weeks, or $6,800, and concede to automatic, but smaller, annual raises absent intervention by the council to the contrary.
Landon is paid a base salary of $168,878 a year. With defined and deferred compensation and a car allowance, his compensation package is at $218,296. Landon also has health benefits significantly more advantageous than other city employees, and has been getting 30 days of personal leave a year from his first year, 20 of them accruable year after year. The contract hasn’t changed in eight years. Wednesday marks Landon’s 10-year anniversary as the city’s manager. He sought a small raise last March. But Landon hadn’t been evaluated in at least seven years, and the council didn’t want to give him more money without an evaluation. That evaluation was conducted in summer. It was good, but not stellar. And when Landon asked for a $5,000 raise, the council turned it down, with one council member at the time—Bill McGuire—saying Landon had been overpaid for many years, and was just now at the right pay level.
Since then McGuire left, as did Jason DeLorenzo, and Jon Netts was term-limited. The three were replaced by Mayor Milissa Holland and council members Bob Cuff and Nick Klufas.
“We’re only here a few months and you’re asking us to make a judgment on pretty much your history here since your last raise,” Klufas told Landon. “That’s bold, but I like that.” But he and Cuff were not comfortable with automatic raises, as the rest of the council members were.
“The fact that there is an anniversary date and the anniversary date is when the pay raise is due, I didn’t put you in that spot,” Landon said, just as boldly: in fact, he is not “due” a raise. His contract leaves it to the council to increase salary or benefits “in its sole discretion” and “on the basis of an annual evaluation and salary review” on the anniversary of employment. (Landon is seeking to change the timing of evaluations to September, at the end of the fiscal year.)
Landon brought up his raise as part of a workshop, presenting a few options to the council in a presentation that Mayor Milissa Holland referred to, having examined it Monday, but that Landon did not make available online as part of the agenda’s background materials, even after the discussion was under way.
As he did in his previous two tries, Landon’s justification for a raise sought cover mostly from how city employees are granted raises, even though there is little comparison between employees’ pay and Landon’s pay, his pay package or the terms of his employment with the council: he’s a contract employee who serves at the will of the council, and his base pay is several times larger than that of the average employee, which means that applying the same percentage increase to his base pay as the percentage awarded employees would net him hugely larger raises: in 2016, the average employee raise was $700. Landon’s, if he gets the 4 percent raise he’s asking for, will be almost 10 times that.
A brief push back on that comparison from council member Steven Nobile aside, the rest of the council seemed willing to go along with the comparison.
Landon at one point claimed he should be earning a base salary of $205,000 or even $213,000 by now, if certain average raises had been applied over the years. But none of the council members were interested in awarding him retroactive pay previous to 2016. “He could have asked for a raise any one of those eight years,” Holland said.
Still, when Holland spoke, it seemed almost certain that this time, Landon had secured the votes he needed to make his request stick in one form or another.
Holland said that when she first examined the proposal Monday, she considered her experience with Landon since she took office “under some challenging circumstances, which was Hurricane Matthew,” she said, so “my evaluation of you Jim really has come in certain segments.”
“I think you handled the hurricane debris clean-up exceptionally well,” she said. Learning the city’s dynamics from being in the office every day, “I’m equally as impressed with how we and the staff interact with each other, how they focus on the policies set forth by this council, and how they measure those policies and how they measure themselves, and I think we need a strong city manager to do all that.”
Council member Heidi Shipley had voted against a raise in July, and had had serious issues with Landon. She said she wanted to evaluate Landon one-on-one. “It went well,” she said, noting also that “things that needed to be ironed out were ironed out between the city and the county, and some other things, but I was fine then with going forward and saying yes to a raise for last year, but we decided he was going to wait” and do it this year. “I do agree that there should be a raise, obviously he should be compensated for a job well done.”
Nobile sought to split the evaluation from the raise, saying raises should not necessarily be determined by evaluations. If he gets a negative evaluation, Nobile said, “it’s time for a new city manager.” But he wanted “embedded” raises of $1,500 a year and a term limit to the contract, as well as a reduction in Landon’s severance package, which currently gives him six months’ pay. “Ten years later? That shouldn’t be as it is,” he said.
Cuff was largely supportive of a raise but didn’t specify the amount he favored. “I’m not a big fan of automatic increases,” he said. “It puts the pressure on the council to say, no, you’re not getting that this year.” He added: “Maybe we need to talk about the ongoing increase and how automatic that is.”
The council at a subsequent meeting will decide the details of the pay increase and the extent of the restructuring of the contract.
Are u in sane,city council folds again, no backbone
John Boy says
I think that Jim Landon has a lot of nerve to ask for another raise in his already lucrative compensation package. Do our politicians have any sense at all? They should not be voting raises for their friends and cronies while the pay for a substitute teacher has not gone up in almost a decade. How much does a school bus driver make? What about the privatized landscapers who, if Trump has his way, would be deported? Have you no sense of decency Jim Landon. How dare you gorge yourself in the public trough while the rest of us can only get a few drops if any at all.
USA Lover says
$168k isn’t enough you greedy bastard?….smh
The reason Landon keeps asking, is he keeps getting. Why is everyone concerned afraid to say no? They could say no and if Landon doesn’t like it, he can find a job elsewhere, which he probably wouldn’t do because no one else would pay that kind of money and perks. Another bunch of wimps on the city council.
I know most of the council members personally. It’s not likely any of them will have my support when they run for reelection. This is disappointing.
PC Council – consider creating a ratio based pay scale. For example, the highest paid position can only be paid 5 times more than the lowest paid. So if the lowest Full Time employee is making $20k a year (just above Florida’s minimum wage) then the highest paid FT employee should not make more than $100k. You can adjust that ratio to attract more skilled employees, but it makes the city fair and accountable to their everyday employees. At $218,000 per year, he is making 11 times more than his minimum wage employees. Maybe the guys at the bottom need a raise before he gets one.
I cannot believe these morons on the city council just gave this greedy guy $6,800.00 raise. The average person in this town is lucky to make 20 percent of his base pay now. I will vote against every incumbent now. These people have no respect for us or how they spend our money. Like this guy was going to leave if he did not get that raise.
Social security recipients, retired military and disabled vets got nothing. Suck it up Landon. Maybe next year.
Haughty and inacessable to citizens does not equal a raise in pay. Its time to move on from Mr Jim. Hey now, Nobile said vote for me and I’ll work on getting Jim out. The late Mr Meeker had the best idea, wait for a council meeting with a favorable majority and vote Jim out near the end of the meeting. Good luck getting rid of him if you give Jim more money, thats like feeding a stray cat or chewing gum on your shoe.
Ben Hogarth says
Leadership means fighting for raises for your people.
The fact Flagler County has managers and administrators giving themselves raises and royalties rather than fighting for every dollar for their people speaks volumes.
But it’s easy to sit in a comfortable council or commission chair when you have a manager who has been on their throne long enough to survive nuclear holocausts.
Usually we call those “cockroaches” – but I hear others using the word Teflon so let’s go with that..
I guess that is the difference between management and leadership
Common Sense says
Instead, how about finding someone else to do the job…for less.
I will not be voting for anyone who approves this.
P. S. Who do you hold responsible for the Holland Park disaster?
I told you so, told you what was going to happen prior to it happening.
@PCer. Tie pay to the median income of the locale. Not that old “we pay based on cities of similar size” BS.
What kind of dope are they smoking at these meetings?
Let’s talk about that six weeks of vacation from day one!!
And when he leaves his position, all that “accrued” personal time can be cashed out. Gotta love our government.
It”s ALWAYS easy to spend OTHER PEOPLES MONEY.
I have to agree with the majority. This is ridicules a the council should be ashamed of themselves. This is Palm Coast not L.A. California. I have lived in Palm Coast since 1989 and tried to get the word out in 1999 NOT to incorporate because with all the different types of people moving here from different parts of the country. We’ll end up with a bunch of bureaucratic idiots trying to make things they way they were from where they came from. Jump ahead to today and we have a city manager who thinks Palm Coast is as big as LA or New York. Do a quick search on other city managers from larger cities and they don’t even come close to what Landon makes. I’ll bet there are more people out there in the city that would do a better job for a lot less. For the past 10 yrs. that Landon has been the manager, I’m not impressed one bit about what he has done. Nor is he worth the salary he’s asking.
Here’s a thought, get rid of Landon, hire someone just as capable (or even better) for half the salary and give the rest to the veterans of Palm Coast.
Landon, your nothing more than a (as the other person called you) greedy bastard and should be ashamed of yourself. The council should also be ashamed if they give him his raise. They should give him his walking papers.
Time to impeach.Greed, that’s how you run Palm Coast
Concerned Citizen says
I’m with Realist on this one. I had hoped that new faces on the Council as well as a new Mayor would keep Landon in check. Instead it seems that he already has them cowed.
I know utility workers and Fire Rescue guys who run circles around Landon work wise and don’t get paid what they are worth. Yes I know they don’t “sign up for the pay” but still you get my point.
Instead of dolling out huge sums of money to a worthless City Manager why doesn’t the city council seek to take care of our rank and file folks?
Hopefully these new Council Members pass their term quickly and we can get some folks in there who won’t be afraid to say NO..
Joe Stemmi says
Re elect no one
City minion says
And he tells us to just be happy we have a job
How fast they forget there campaign speech
Next council meeting Tuesday 630 voice your opinion
Did councilman Khufus quote The Walking Dead in that meting?
Maybe he does deserve a raise but the Taxpayers deserve something too. So like the majority of workers who also work hard and produce. I’d say give him a 1.5% easier. BUT ALSO MAKE HIM GIVE BACK SOMETHING NOT ONLY OF A COMPENSATORY NATURE BUT SOMETHING THAT WILL OVER THE LONG RUN SAVE TAXPAYERS A GREATER AMOUNT THE NEXT FEW YEARS AS WELL.
He currently makes more than the City Manager of LA, 20 times our size in terms of size, budget, employees.
David S. says
Palm Coast is a joke,how can we get rid of him?
John Yankovich says
Once again the taxpayers pay for incompetence!!!! Landon built the new city hall over the negative vote of the people ( I believe it was 3 to 1against). And the Holland park debacle to name a few. Trump gets $400,000 (which he refuses to take) for the responsibility of 320 million people and Landon gets $168,000 for 75,000 people. If he wants more time to move on!!!! Just another example of politicians making payments with OPM! Anyone notice mill rate went up to 8 mills per 1000?
Adam Frank says
Maybe Palm Coast residents should consider a referendum to change their form of government to a “strong Mayor” form, thereby alleviating the need for a City Manager.
I like the idea of a “pay scale” were the top only can get X times what the bottom are paid. Also their should be NO special “BENEFITS” for the top. If you work FOR the people in government the top and bottom person should have the same medical, vacation, retirement and any other benefits.
If you are one who disagrees with the proposed raise bombard the town councilors with emails. Enough emails may have a remote chance of doing some good.
STOP ELECTING REPUBLICANS into OFFICE! Anita Moeder should have been elected instead. Landon is the HIGHEST PAID city manager in almost the WHOLE NATION! Watch your property taxes go up, up, up now because Palm Coast republicans BELIEVE in being in debt and screwing over the population. First the massive raise to the city attorneys who work 4 hours a week (making over $300,000 a year now) and now Landon getting a completely underserved raise??? Outrageous! Republicans are NOT interested in protecting YOUR wallet, that’s for sure.
Its fairly simple. Give Jim a raise and he’ll support raises for council members. However, some council members like Mr Nobile told voters that if elected, he would work to remove Landon. One solution is to make city council totally voluntary and unpaid.
Good comments. Landon makes more than the Orlando manager, I believe, or at least he used to. It seems awfully high. This is our tax money, Mayor Holland.
Go red says
If he is appointed no raise ,but if he has been elected and in his tenth year he should have raises if you don’t like it vote him out
Go ahead city council give him a raise and kiss your jobs goodbye at the next election. This guy should be getting a raise like everyone else one a year 2-3 percent.
This city council is a joke!!!
VOTE them ALL out.
If anything he should give that amount back to the county !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bob c says
Landon. Makes more than the gov. With his total package car,ins,401k. He makes well over 200,000k. He don’t need a raise ,he can’t finish holland park. Over 2 years and now he is starting the senior center before the park is. Done. What a joke this guy is..