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Hernando commission to consider restructuring plan for county staff

BROOKSVILLE — Two longtime county leaders would face significant pay cuts while others would get raises or new job responsibilities if the County Commission goes along with recommendations that have emerged from a months-long study of county jobs and salaries.

The dollars-and-cents impact of the proposed restructuring of the county government staff will be considered by the commission on Tuesday.

Over the next five years, consultant Donald Burris recommends a phasing in of salary changes for supervisory personnel, as the county's financial situation allows, and aimed at matching county employee pay with the market pay for positions.

The exercise to restructure was begun in early 2009 with a primary goal to streamline government operations while creating an equitable salary system. For at least the initial recommendations, the cost reduction is minimal by the time salaries are raised and lowered.

The net savings for the first five changes is just $9,249.

Under the plan that County Administrator David Hamilton will recommend Tuesday, human resources director Cheryl Marsden would take over the position of director of administrative services. Hamilton has been doing that task himself, overseeing human resources, purchasing, communications, budget and information technology.

Marsden, who had been facing a salary cut and demotion in a previous version of the restructuring plan, would then keep her current annual salary of $96,000.

George Zoettlein and Michael McHugh, both directors who became managers in the last structural changes, would see their salaries reduced by $13,271 and $13,871, respectively.

Zoettlein, who is responsible for the county budget, has a current salary of $97,739, but his responsibilities have decreased recently.

McHugh, who oversees economic development, is paid $98,554. He does not meet the educational requirements for the approved job description, but has said he would enroll in classes to improve his credentials.

On the other side of the coin, Susan Goebel, the newly approved director of transportation services, and Jean Rags, community services director, are both recommended for raises.

The consultant has recommended a $16,387 raise for Goebel. Hamilton is recommending instead half that amount, which would bring her salary to $84,301. That would lag behind the market value figured for the position, which is $93,314.

Hamilton notes that the remainder of the recommended pay bump could be available at a future date, once Goebel meets the mark of 10 years of engineering experience.

Rags is recommended for a $9,699 pay raise by the consultant, and Hamilton agreed based on the scope of her responsibilities. If approved, that would increase her salary to $87,056.

Human resources staffers note in their memo to the commission that all of the other recommendations in the salary study cannot be accomplished at the current time because of budget considerations and should be phased in as the consultant recommended.

The Burris plan would reduce the salaries of employees who are above their market value, which could save the county $52,863 in 2011 and $29,719 in 2012. Then in 2013 and 2014, pay adjustments upward for employees below market value would cost the county $56,465 each year, if the county can afford the cost.

In 2015, the cost to the county would be $46,026.

"We remain committed to the process of adjusting salaries to market with the understanding that we are required to reduce our overall costs due to significant budget shortfalls,'' the staff wrote.

Burris also makes a series of recommendations for the future, some that would have an impact on more of the rank-and-file employees. The county should work to reduce the number of position titles, he said. He also recommends changing the system where some positions have the same title, but at different pay levels, though there is little or no difference in their duties.

In addition to considering the compensation plan recommendations, the commission will discuss Hamilton's recommendation that the interlocal agreement for purchasing and contracts with Clerk of Court Karen Nicolai end in 60 days.

Commissioners last month agreed to keep the agreement in place until June 1.

Hamilton also makes recommendations for new job descriptions and a purchasing department restructuring once it is back under the county's control. The plan would have a supervisor of procurement budgeted at $69,014 and a contract compliance officer budgeted at $45,000, each answering to the director of administrative services.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando commission to consider restructuring plan for county staff 12/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:06pm]

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