Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Children's Board leader to get sizable retirement payout

TAMPA — Luanne Panacek, the embattled leader of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, vowed to her staff last month that she would not leave.

If Panacek sticks around through November 2013 as she's requested, she'll get a hefty payout from the state retirement system: $534,320.

Panacek, who has been with the taxpayer-funded Children's Board since 1995, entered the state's deferred retirement option program in 2008. To be eligible for the full payout, she must stay through November 2013, according to the Florida Department of Management Services.

It's unclear how much she would lose if she left early.

On Thursday, board member Pete Edwards circulated a series of questions about Panacek's contract, including how much the Children's Board would owe her if it terminated her contract a year early. He did not bring up the subject at a board meeting, but said he asked the questions because he thinks Panacek and the agency should part ways.

If Panacek were terminated without cause, she would get either 26 weeks of pay or the remainder left on her contract, whichever is less. If she resigns, she's due no compensation other than accrued leave.

"People really want everybody to cut their losses and move on," Edwards said.

No one else on the board of directors has called for her resignation, although chairman Chris Brown has questioned whether she is still the right person to lead the $30 million agency.

One problem that's started to simmer with the board of directors: Panacek's contract, which pays $171,330 a year, expires at the end of September 2013 — two months before her official retirement date.

Brown raised the issue of the two-month gap at a recent committee meeting, where the topic was planning for Panacek's replacement. Panacek told board members she assumed they would extend her contract for two months to meet her retirement date.

According to a recording of the September 2010 meeting when board members signed her three-year contract, no one mentioned the difference between the contract end date and Pancek's retirement date.

"I will not be in favor of extending the contract just to meet the DROP date," Edwards said. He said the two months constituted a "bonus" with which he is uncomfortable.

"I know taxpayers aren't going to like that," he said. "You can't do that."

The Children's Board began coming under closer scrutiny in recent months after revelations that Panacek let a friend into the public building after hours to anoint the offices with holy oil. More recently, about 15 staffers sent emails to Brown, complaining about low morale and a culture of retribution and even levying accusations that top executives doctored documents.

Panacek received a positive 2011 evaluation from the agency's board members earlier this year.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at or (813) 226-3374.

Funding advances

Board members of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County on Thursday approved $17.1 million in preliminary funding recommendations for nearly 25 nonprofit agencies that provide services to children. Some of the individual amounts could change due to negotiations. About $2.8 million has been set aside, some of which could go to nonprofits that did not get selected in the competitive funding process but are appealing that decision. A final decision is set for August.

Children's Board leader to get sizable retirement payout 05/24/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rubio attacked for not attacking 'Antifa'


    The far right is angry with Sen. Marco Rubio for condemning white nationalist groups in Charlottesville -- and faulting President Trump for not doing some more clearly – while not …

  2. Prosecutors tried to delay a trial because of the eclipse. Florida judge cited 'Star Trek' in ruling


    The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but they cannot be stopped by Monday's total eclipse, a judge has ruled.

    Schweta Kulkarni, from left, Rhea Kulkarni and Saanvi Kulkarni, from Seattle, try out their eclipse glasses on the sun at a gathering of eclipse viewers in Salem, Ore., early Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) ORDR102
  3. Top 5 at Noon: Mayoral race affects ballpark decision; stream the eclipse live


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    Looking east at Tropicana Field and downtown St. Petersburg.  SCOTT KEELER    |    Times

  4. Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot


    Now that you've seen the preseason AP Top 25, here's what I submitted in my first year as a voter. The AP doesn't give us many guidelines in the preseason. I didn't try to predict how …

  5. AP Top 25: Alabama first, FSU, UF, Miami and USF all in top 20


    As expected, Alabama will start the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.