They love their city manager in Flagler Beach.
Larry Newsom had asked city commissioners for a 7 percent raise to his $92,500 annual salary. At a budget workshop today, “they blew that right out of the water,” Newsom said, as commissioners offered him 30 percent instead, what would amount to a $27,500 raise.
Whether Newsom takes the full raise is another story. “There’s a long way to go,” he said this evening. “In good conscience it’s not just about Larry, it’s about Larry and his staff,” Newsom said. “My goal is regardless of what my raise is, is to bring a certain millage rate to the commission. My raise may be sacrificed to that. I will cut my own salary if I feel something else is more necessary.”
The budget workshop today focused on the city’s general revenue fund and what amounted to every department’s wish lists, including a 4 percent across the board raise for all city employees, including directors. The city has some additional maneuvering room this year, with an 8 percent increase in property valuations–the largest since the boom years of the last decade. But Newsom’s marching orders are to match as many of the wishes on the list with a property tax rate that commissioners–and taxpayers–can live with.
The current rate is $5.21 per $1,000 in taxable value. For a $175,000 house with a $50,000 homestead exemption, that equates to a $651 tax bill (not including school, county and other taxes). The tax rate that would be necessary to match up with the full wish list is $5.85 per $1,000 in taxable value, or a $731 bill, an $80 percent increase. Neither Newsom nor the commission are likely to go that high.
“He’s going to give us different scenarios with different percentages,” said Jane Mealy, who chairs the commission. But as far as Newsom’s salary was concerned, “everybody was good with that.”
The proposal for a raise was put forth by Commissioner Marshal Shupe.
“He wasn’t here two months and he was planning for an emergency, and lo and behold, six months later we had an emergency,” Shupe said. “That comes with experience, the way I see it. He’s been able to do things that we haven’t done to my knowledge in the last 10 years that I’ve been here. He’s been able to do things in the last year, year and a half, that maybe should have been done six, seven years ago, or two and three years ago.” That, Shupe said, speaks to Newsom’s experience.
Newsom himself had applied for city and county administrator or manager jobs in a few other localities since arriving in Flagler Beach, most recently in Putnam County, where he’s now among the four short-listed candidates. The four have been invited for a community meet-and-greet Thursday evening. Newsom said he’s turned down the invitation and the job for good, and told his commissioners as much today.
“I don’t apply for these jobs as leverage,” Newsom said. “These things can backfire on any individual.” Rather,m he said, he applies to test his marketability, though he’d previously said that if the money was right, he could not in good conscience turn down a substantial offer. And there appeared to have been little question that absent a serious raise, Newsom’s days in the city would have been numbered–and the commission would have lost a commanding, unpretentious manager who gets things done without the heavy hand or abrasiveness of a couple of other fellow-top government executives in the county.
Shupe said Newsom’s job search in Putnam had nothing to do with his proposal of a substantial raise, which Shupe had been working on for the past several months. He’d made calls and carried out his own research, studying top executives’ salaries in other coastal cities the size of Flagler Beach’s. (Mealy did not think the comparisons were always accurate, since some of the cities were more touristy spots than full-service cities like Flagler Beach.) He examined about 40 cities and presented his findings to the commission today.
Liz Mathis, the city’s human resources director, had research of her own that showed that if a city manager was being hired at the beginning of his or her career, the going rate for a city Flagler Beach’s size would have been just under $100,000–still considerably more than what Newsom is making now.
“We all agreed that he deserved far more than what he was making,” Mealy said. “He’s been nothing but very good for us, and very hard working.” So commissioners settled on the $120,000 figure.
“We threw it in his lap,” Commissioner Rick Belhumeur said, also citing Newsom’s foresight before Hurricane Matthew. “He might decide to come back with something else.”
The commission still has another budget workshop and two hearings before the figures are formalized.
Rick Belhumeur says
I was the only commissioner that suggested Mr. Newsom “step it up a notch” but there is no mention of that in this article… instead with the quote “we threw it in his lap”, it seems like I advocate this raise without additional expectations.
S. Sharpe says
He deserves it. He has already paid for himself with all the federal and state grants he had awarded to city. This is a leader who only has the best interest in the city and its residents. Remember, you get what you pay for.
The city can’t afford to pay attention let alone this kind of pay for a city manager. All the whining over a fire truck and then these council members pull a stunt like this. I guess its not what you know but who you know. Good grief……time for some new city leadership.
Constantly amazed says
im sure the unemployed and soon to be unemployed residents of Flagler Beach will be thrilled to death he was offered a 30% pay raise. Just drive through Flagler Beach at any time of the day and night and you will be treated to all the charm and class the beach area has to offer, the constantly flooded streets, the awfull stench of backed up sewers, drug crazed sex offenders and transients and of course the business friendly atmosphere that has attracted new and profitable business to the beach. Yes he deserves a 30% raise.
Glad to see they now have the money as to promise to permanently fix the pier and A1A since they are so rich. I just don’t get it! The guy asks for a 7% raise and gets offered a 30% raise? All they do is sit on their hands all day when we ask for help in improving our city. I just don’t get it as I’m shaking my head walking away in disbelief……WE THE PEOPLE can take a stand and control this madness if we organize ourselves once and for all! .We know what to do when we reach the voting booth next time around.
Are you guys really serious???? There goes a tax increase for all who live beachside. NUTS!!!!
Simply because is “others people monies”…
Cindy Jay says
Oh, come on! haven’t had a raise in five years. I could live for a month or longer on what this guy stands to make in one week.
Maybe he’s a hard worker, but you know what? So am I, and so are a lot of other people I know. I am sick to death about reading about how all these government people keep getting raises and regular workers don’t get squat. Sick of it.
Are you all nuts!!!! Here goes my property taxes!!!
Once again I have my opinion to post about this. I think what they did is absolutely crazy! It is my right to be heard.
Flagler beach start voting you have no one to blame for the inept law makers we have in this city but the voters
Mothers Worry says
Don’t negotiations occur anymore?? I understand if you pay peanuts you get monkey’s but this is just dumb. I don’t get it, there’s gotta be a heck of a lot more to this story.
Who negotiated this contract? Find out and fire that person.
Rick Belhumeur says
Every decision that the Flagler Beach City Commission makes is done at open public meetings where anyone is allowed to address the Commission. If you want your voice heard then that’s where you need to be, not on here bashing decisions after the fact. There was a long discussion about the City Manager’s salary during the Budget workshop yesterday. If you were there you would know that the City Manager has been paid below the minimum for the position he holds. If you were there you would know that this only brings him up to scale with the City Manager prior to our last. If you were there you would know what a professional city manager we now have. If you were there you would know what the projected spending is for this upcoming year as well as compare it to last year. And if you were there you would have had the chance to argue the pros and cons as you see them. It’s easy to type some derogatory remarks here but that’s not how you can make a difference. If you truly want to share your thoughts and concerns with those that matter, your need to come to the public meetings. Sign up for email reminders on the website (http://www.cityofflaglerbeach.com) and you’ll always know when they are.
It’s nice to know that they all spent time in researching on how much everyone is worth.
Really Marshall ? Some of your comments are way off the mark! I would love to sit and discuss your logic or better, lack of. This is absurd miss judgement on your part and the entire Commission if this goes thru.
The only problem with voting these people out is the people running against them will do the same thing, It all comes down to SPENDING OTHER PEOPLES MONEY! City, State, County & Federal.. Its all the same!
Mothers Worry says
Well Mr Belhumer, I don’t have to be there to recognize foolishness when I see it. You would have people believe that Mr. Newsom wasn’t aware of the pay scale for the job he accepted. You can wrap this in all the spin you want but a 30% raise is unheard of.
Do you feel that the police officer driving by a home at 0300 and see’s flame and smoke, stops, runs in and pulls out the residents and saves a few lives should receive a miniscule raise? Do you feel that the fireman that resuscitates a person on the pier who is having a heart attack is worthy of more than a miniscule raise? Perhaps in light of the generous raise you folks have bestowed of our city manager you would advocate the same for other city employees as well.
Precedents like this can really come back and bite you in negotiations with others.
Rick, I live in Flagler Beach and will happily pay more property taxes if it’s necessary in order to pay Mr. Newsome a salary that’s competitive with area managers. You get what you pay for. We’re fortunate to have a professional manager who’s made many improvements since he’s come. I know morale has improved with staff and things are moving in a positive direction. Retaining “high caliber” employees should be a priority. We could easily lose Mr. Newsome if he’s not paid competitively and then we’ll have to promote another public works employee to be our manager which would definitely be a step backwards. Keep up the good work Rick!
Hey Commissioner Belhumeur….. Just was told you are Mr. Newsome’s landlord at a property you own on South Daytona Ave. in Flagler Beach. Wow! He pays you rent and you are his superior. No wonder you want to hand him a 30% raise. Are you going to get additional rent $$$ once it goes into effect ? This may not pass the “smell” test ? A violation of ethics once again in our quaint little Flagler County ? Someone needs to look into this cozy financial relationship. Robert Mueller perhaps.
Rick Belhumeur says
fathersworry2, what’s your point? Mr Newsom was a tenant before I was a Commissioner. Violation of ethics? He and his wife have to live somewhere. What am I supposed to do, kick them out? Our tenant/landlord relationship have nothing to do with city business. Give it all you smell tests you like.
Have you ever thought of recusing yourself when it comes to a conflict of interest?
Mothers Worry says
I would think there might be a bit of a conflict there. Mr. Belhumeur, you probably should have declared your relationship and recused yourself from the issue.
Here is the link to the Florida Commission on Ethics complaint form for those who care:
Stop worrying people, our current tax rate will cover it. Oh wait, they just raised property taxes again.